Chicago Cubs: Kyle Schwarber deserves – and will find – success in 2018

MESA, AZ - FEBRUARY 20: Kyle Schwarber
MESA, AZ - FEBRUARY 20: Kyle Schwarber /

From World Series hero to bust, Kyle Schwarber has experienced a great deal in his Chicago Cubs career. In 2018, though, he will find sustained success.

Looking back, I don’t remember another largely unproven player see the same level of hype as Kyle Schwarber heading into 2017. After a miraculous return from a devastating injury, helping lift the Chicago Cubs to their first World Series title in 108 years. To call it unwarranted isn’t exactly fair.

But as of Opening Day 2017, the former first-rounder had a total of 71 big-league regular season games under his belt. In those games, he showcased a solid ability to get on (.353 OBP) and power that left fans clamoring over one another in the bleachers at Wrigley for home run balls. That is when the ball didn’t leave the ballpark altogether.

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A letdown in 2017

In the face of said hype, though, Schwarber underwhelmed in a big way in 2017. At one point, barely holding his average north of the Mendoza Line, the Cubs demoted him to Triple-A Iowa – a place he’d hoped never to see again.

The move served its purpose, though. He hit much better down the stretch and was largely a league-average bat with a 99 OPS+.

"“He carried this tremendous weight around with him,” Epstein told “That’s why we ultimately [sent] him down, just to allow him the chance to reset and hopefully remove that weight and be a little selfish and rediscover his identity as a hitter because he was becoming this carnival act slugger, taking these huge swings, getting pull oriented and trying to lift the ball, swinging up hill and losing his balance as he finished his swing. It’s just not who he is.”"

Turning hard work into results on the field

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This offseason, the slugger and catcher-turned-outfielder underwent a transformation. He dropped a ton of weight and retooled a swing that was once believed to hold tremendous hitting ability.

The excitement when Pat Hughes introduced Schwarber at Cubs Convention in January was mixed with confusion. “Is that Schwarbie?” “Are you sure that’s not Happ,” I heard one person ask in the lobby. The transformation truly is that drastic.

But losing weight isn’t enough to make a player a good hitter. Sure, it helps boost athleticism, but that’s far from being enough. If his performance is any indication this spring, though, Schwarber figured something out. Or, perhaps, he just got back to his roots.

Entering play Wednesday, he carried an OPS north of 1.200 into action. His batting average? .385 against roughly Triple-A quality pitching. But we’ll take it. During Wednesday’s game against the Rangers, Schwarber blasted another spring homer – bringing his Cactus League total to four.

Line drives over moon shots

I don’t want a 60-homer season from War Bear. I’d much rather see him cut his strikeouts, boost his walks and be a .280 hitter who cracks 20 to 30 long-balls annually. That’s when he’s at his most lethal. This guy has line drive power to all fields – and while his mammoth moon shots are wonderful to look at, there’s much more to his game than launch angle and putting balls atop video boards.

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Given what he accomplished this offseason, I hope we see a monster season from Kyle Schwarber.  Because when the dust settles on 2018, no one will be able to say this kid didn’t put in the work to find success. He did that – and then some – and there’s no one on this roster more deserving of a strong season.