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Chicago Cubs: What can we expect from Kyle Schwarber in 2017?

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Nov 2, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Chicago Cubs player Kyle Schwarber (12) hits an infield single against the Cleveland Indians in the first inning in game seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 2, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Chicago Cubs player Kyle Schwarber (12) hits an infield single against the Cleveland Indians in the first inning in game seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /
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Chicago Cubs’ 23-year-old slugger Schwarber surprised everyone by recovering extremely quickly from a serious knee injury in April. Fast enough that he was able to return to the Cubs lineup just in time for the Fall Classic. What can we expect from Schwarber in 2017?

Let’s track back to April 7th. Chicago Cubs’ outfielder Kyle Schwarber was tracking down a fly ball in left-center, only to collide with center fielder Dexter Fowler.

The former first-round pick tore his ACL and LCL in his left knee. The horrific injury looked like it would keep Schwarber out of the Cubs lineup for the entire 2016 season. Then the unthinkable happened.

Schwarber, amazingly enough, was able to return just in time for the biggest stage in baseball, the World Series. He spent time in the Arizona fall league rehabbing to see if he could be ready to play in the fall classic.

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Doctors cleared him to play, but the former first-round pick wasn’t able to play on the field quite yet, therefore he was the designated hitter in the games that were in Cleveland. Schwarber did not disappoint. He hit .412, going 7 for 17 with some clutch hits in big situations for the Cubs.

The thing that amazes me about his comeback, is that this guy didn’t play for months. He got a bit of live action prior to returning and rolled into the starting lineup and made it look like he didn’t miss a beat. The kid can flat-out hit.

2017

The way Schwarber swung the bat in the postseason, leaves me and lots of Cubs supporters excited for what he could do in 2017. I believe the sky is the limit for him. He generates amazing bat speed, and when he does connect; that ball is going a long, long way. One thing I’d like to see from him though is more plate discipline.

For example, in the World Series. I know he didn’t get a lot of reps during the season because of the knee injury. That could have been part of this problem. But something that I noticed is that he was expanding his zone a little too much and swinging at pitches out of his wheelhouse. Especially off-speed pitches.

Again, there’s a very good chance he will get back that plate coverage after spring training is over, but it’s something that will help him succeed and ultimately increase his on-base percentage if pitchers don’t want to give him pitches to hit.

I honestly believe that Kyle Schwarber could be one of the best, if not the best hitter in the Cubs lineup if he stays healthy. Kris Bryant is currently the face of the franchise. But I believe Schwarber could be right up there with Bryant when it comes to producing at the plate.

This guy has unreal power. If Cubs fans remember back in the 2015 NLDS against the Cardinals, Schwarber hit a mammoth shot off the scoreboard in right field at Wrigley. That was one of five postseason home runs in the 2015 postseason.

In fact, he was the first rookie to ever hit five or more home runs at the age of 22 or younger in the postseason, passing Miguel Cabrera. His first season in the bigs, only one year after being drafted out of Indiana University, and he’s crushing bombs in the playoffs.

This kid is the real deal. There’s a reason the Cubs selected him in the first round in 2014. He has a bat that can impact a game at any given time.

Let’s take a look at some of his stats from 2015. He only played 69 games that season, after coming up to the Bigs from the minors in mid-June. In 232 at bats, Schwarber hit 16 homers and had 43 RBI.

He did strike out 33% of the time, but that’s to be expected from a young prospect who is adjusting to major league arms. Like I mentioned above, the playoff numbers are what is extremely impressive. The big stage doesn’t scare him. Schwarber has clutched up in the most important situations, all at the tender age of 23.

Could be a huge year for him

the 2017 season has the potential to be a breakout year for Schwarber. This will be his first full season in the big leagues, where he will experience the long and strenuous 162 game schedule. Considering it is going to be his first full big league season, Schwarber might not hit for an amazing average.

I would predict he’ll hit around .270 to .280. But the power numbers will be there. Being a big guy helps when it comes to being a power hitter, there’s no doubt about that. But bat speed equals power. The more bat speed a hitter has, the harder he can hit the ball and ultimately that results in lifting some balls out of the yard and into the bleachers.

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There is a very good chance Schwarber could hit 25 plus homers in 2017, as long as he stays healthy. Maybe more. It’s not known where he will play in the field at this point, most likely left field, though. He plays decent enough defense but will have to work on his routes to balls in the outfield. As long as his bat is in the lineup.

The more at bats he gets in 2017, the more he’s going to improve at the plate. There’s been talk that he could bat leadoff for the Cubs after the departure of Dexter Fowler, but it’s not yet been determined if that will happen or not.

I believe Kyle Schwarber will have a very productive 2017 season, and contribute to leading the Cubs back to another World Series, and hopefully, another title.

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