Chicago Cubs: Kyle Schwarber showing progression in the field
We’re not going to say that the Chicago Cubs’ Kyle Schwarber has “figured it out” in the field. He still will misplay a ball, and he’s far from perfect. But a couple of strong throws home have shown he might not be a lost cause like some think.
I’m very aware what many of you are thinking. That Chicago Cubs’ outfielder Kyle Schwarber can’t field. He’d be better in the AL as a designated hitter. First, just stop it. If you didn’t see what Schwarber did last season in the World Series after not playing for the ENTIRE season, go back and watch it again. That wasn’t luck. It’s wasn’t Spring Training. He put up those numbers against quality pitchers from the Cleveland Indians. He can hit, and it’s why the Cubs drafted him.
His play in the field is often questioned. Granted, he’s made some nice running catches. But often he’s out of position, or his first step is a little slow. If only they had some metric for that. But wait! They do! It’s called UZR (Ultimate zone rating). Now, it isn’t a foolproof system. For starters, it’s recommended that you use a three-year window from a player at a position. For Schwarber, he’s not had a full-year anywhere on the field.
Not quite enough, but getting there
But in 2017, he’s had his fair share of innings in the outfield. So you can use a few different factors to figure how effective a player is. UZR is one, DRS (Defensive runs saved) is another. Looking at DRS, Schwarber hasn’t been very good. With a DRS of -4, that’s not impressing anyone. But wait, there’s more! Part of the UZR rating is ARM (Outfield arm runs above average). Schwarber has a 3.4 this year. Part of that reason is these throws in two of the last three games:
And this one from the opener in the series:
So that leads us to the UZR rating for Schwarber. He currently sits at…drumroll….2.5. Amazing? No. But with the essential guide being 0 for average and 5 for average, Schwarber is halfway to being an above average fielder. If you don’t believe it, you can always go to Fangraphs to verify it yourself.
Next: Cubs woes made worse by some good pitching
Schwarber isn’t a great fielder, nor is he ever going to be one. But he’s also had a barely a season played in the outfield after moving from playing catcher. It can be a little ugly at times, but it’ll get better. In fact, it’s already better than average. I know, this may be a stake to the heart of those of you that have been trying to trade Schwarber. He’s also creeping up near the .200 mark. But that will be a debate for another time.