Chicago Cubs: Five Cubs players who will improve in 2017

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Mar 28, 2017; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon (70), left, reads his line-up card in the fourth inning against the San Francisco Giants during a spring training game at Sloan Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 28, 2017; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon (70), left, reads his line-up card in the fourth inning against the San Francisco Giants during a spring training game at Sloan Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports /
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Nov 2, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Chicago Cubs player Kyle Schwarber (12) reacts after hitting a single against the Cleveland Indians in the 10th 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) reacts after hitting a single against the Cleveland Indians in the 10th inning in game seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /

#2. Kyle Schwarber

This seems like an obvious one. After tearing both the ACL and LCL in his left knee to start the season, Kyle Schwarber missed nearly all of the 2016 regular season. Then, of course, he stormed back and dominated in the World Series, helping the Cubs win their first championship in 108 years. No big deal.

Often times, the Comeback Player of the Year award goes to a player who spent the majority of the previous season on the disabled list. This makes Schwarber a prime candidate.

In 2015, Schwarber slashed .246/.355/.487 with 16 home runs in just 69 games played. Those are outstanding numbers, especially for a rookie. Hitting 16 home runs in 69 games gave us a real display of the power Schwarber possesses. If he can stay healthy for most of this season, it will be entertaining to see how many long balls he can crank.

Making adjustments on the fly

In what areas can Schwarber improve? Two places: defense and plate discipline.

Now, it should be noted that Schwarber’s poor defense in the 2015 NLCS has greatly distorted people’s view of his defense as a whole. Schwarber had a UZR of 0.3 for the 2015 regular season, which isn’t great, but it isn’t bad either. It’s…average. But he can improve. Keep in mind, Schwarber doesn’t have the body of a prototypical outfielder, and it was his rookie year.

He hasn’t quite given up the dream of being a catcher just yet, but the majority of his playing time will be in the outfield this year. Don’t be surprised if Schwarber ends up being a much better defender this season.

As for plate discipline, this is an area in which he could very easily improve, but doesn’t necessarily need to. Players who hit for great power, as Schwarber is expected to, don’t need to hit for a particularly high average to be productive hitters in a lineup. But with Schwarber expected to be a leadoff hitter, at least to start the season, it wouldn’t be a shock to see him work to improve his patience. He may not look like your typical leadoff hitter, but Schwarber knows how to take a walk, and with a .355 OBP from 2015, he can prove it.

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