Chicago Cubs: Why fans wanted Kyle Schwarber to play on Opening Day

(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /
8 of 9
Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: Should Jason Heyward have sat on Opening Day?

Jason Heyward is an elite defender. He has five Gold Gloves and is a far superior outfielder than Schwarber, despite the fact that the latter was better both offensively and defensively last season per metrics (Heyward had a UZR/150 of 7.8 last season compared to Schwarber’s 14). UZR measures how many runs above average each defender was worth compared to others at his position and year). No one is arguing otherwise, despite the analytics.

More from Chicago Cubs News

Because of Schwarber’s improvement in left field, if there is a player who should be platooned against starting left-handed pitching, maybe it should be the $184 million man in Heyward. While Heyward holds the advantage in average as compared to Schwarber when you analyze their numbers, that’s about all. By modern metrics and stats, Schwarber, despite his struggles, was far superior offensively last season to Heyward against left-handed starting pitchers. He’s also way more of a “presence” pitchers have to worry about.

Against left-handed starting pitchers in 2018, Heyward slashed .238/.304/.349 for an sOPS+ of 82. Schwarber’s slash was .195/.377/.390 with an sOPS+ of 115 (the higher the number, the better the hitter fared against that specific split for the season).

For comparison, Rizzo had an sOPS+ against left-handed starters of 117. So, despite the putrid batting average, Schwarber was basically the same production-wise as Rizzo last season against the guys he “isn’t good at hitting.”