Two months into the season, Chicago Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber continues to look good in the field and at the dish, giving a major boost to the lineup.
Kyle Schwarber’s explosive 2015 NLDS showing against the St. Louis Cardinals seems like forever ago. Last season was just his first full Major League season – and it came with plenty of lows and very few highs. But the Chicago Cubs stuck with their former first-round pick. And, lo and behold, the move continues to pay off.
After capping Chicago’s late-inning rally over the Mets with a three-run opposite field shot, Schwarber tied Kris Bryant for third on the team with 28 RBI. The Cubs third baseman ranks ahead of Schwarber in OPS – but that’s the only name Schwarber is looking up at in that regard.
The most exciting part of his offensive performance so far this year? A 140 OPS+ and a 45:31 strikeout-to-walk mark. What does all that add up to? A .380 on-base percentage – which trails only Bryant and Ben Zobrist.
Deeper, more dangerous lineup
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We’re long past the days where opposing staffs focused on the dynamic duo of Bryzzo. This lineup is loaded from top-to-bottom. Javier Baez could drive in 80+ runs for the first time this year. Albert Almora continues to hit whenever he gets the nod in center.
Add in Zobrist, a former World Series MVP who is looking younger by the day, and the likes of Willson Contreras and, yes, Jason Heyward (he’s hitting .385 in the last week) – and you have the makings of a lethal lineup.
That’s not to discredit Schwarber, either. In the past, similar to Rizzo’s early days in a Cubs uniform, he sat against southpaws pretty regularly. But this season, when he’s faced left-handers, he’s been more than solid.
He’s hitting .250 against right-handers, but all 11 of his home runs and 25 of his 28 RBI have come against them. But against lefties, he’s adjusted – shortening his stroke and focusing on contact and working counts. That’s resulted in a .296/.424/.370 slash line in 33 plate appearances.
Yes, it’s a small sample size. But the fact he’s capitalizing on said opportunities is promising, to say the least.
Power and OBP – I love it.
People forget that even in a disappointing 2017 season, this guy popped 30 homers and drove in 59 runs. At that point, though, most folks labeled him an all-or-nothing hitter. Which couldn’t be further from the truth.
This is a pure hitter – a professional hitter, if you will. Don’t be shocked if we’re talking about a .400 OBP before this season draws to a close. 30 dingers, a .400 on-base clip and much-improved defense in left? Yes, please. Can I have some more?