Chicago Cubs: Five reasons Kyle Schwarber will win the NL MVP

(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: Head down, drive it the other way

Schwarber has always been at his best when he hits balls to center and left field with authority.  While it seems like he is shifted against more than anyone else (and he’s actually 29th in the league in terms of % of time shifted against at 64.5%), he actually posted a .380 wOBA while dealing with the pesky shift in 2018, one of the highest wOBA amongst left-handed hitters who regularly see the shift.

When Schwarber decides to hit the ball with authority to all fields, he hits it over and through the shifting that most teams have opted to employ against him. He has also looked to slap balls the other way with two strikes and lay down bunts when the shortstop strays too far from that third-base line. The willingness to do those things and the fact that he’s in the same clubhouse as a guy like Rizzo (who made a deliberate adjustment with two strikes that has made him a formidable hitter), means he’s only going to get better going the other way, hitting with two strikes, and ultimately, beating the shift.

This spring, Schwarber has looked like the guy who came back from the minors in 2017 looking to drive the ball all over the field. He has been patient as always, has adjusted his stance to a lower, stronger crouch that allows him to sit back and drive balls with more authority (especially the other way), and has also looked to lay bunts down if no one is near the line. If Kyle Schwarber can be unaffected by the shift and hammer balls to all fields, doubles, triples, and home runs will follow. He will also pick up base hits just slapping balls through the left side of the infield when they put three defenders on the right side.

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