Kyle Schwarber is hotter than we’ve maybe ever seen him and he’s making Chicago Cubs fans (myself included) eat crow out of the leadoff spot.
It appears that I owe Kyle Schwarber an apology. As he struggled out of the leadoff spot, I penned a piece essentially laying out the Chicago Cubs‘ need for more production at the top of the order. And almost as if on queue the former first-rounder turned it up to 11 and locked in at the plate.
Over the last week, the Chicago left-fielder is 10 for his last 24 – slashing a monstrous .417/.462/.792 line with three doubles and two home runs. He’s struck out just four times and walked twice, helping lead the Cubs to a 6-1 homestand, all but erasing the tough road trip that preceded it.
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"“I love his stance right now, man. I love what he’s doing in the box,” manager Joe Maddon told MLB.com. “He’s made some beautiful adjustments. This is as good as I’ve seen him — ever. I think I’ve seen him really good when he first came up or even in the World Series, he was outstanding. But this, if we could put this in a little bit of a time capsule, head’s up.”"
Schwarber is the epitome of an Epstein and Maddon guy – one of those players who seem married to the organization deeper than most players. When beat writers and pundits put together their trade ideas to fix the Cubs’ bullpen, Schwarber is the one name rarely mentioned – simply because of how high the front office is on his skillset.
The first time Chicago tried him as a leadoff hitter? Well, it didn’t go well, to say the least. That experiment ultimately concluded with his demotion to Triple-A Iowa after he hit just .190 atop the Cubs’ batting order.
But things seem different this year. There’s no telling how long this spell with last, with Schwarber both working counts and punishing mistakes on a nightly basis. On the year, he carries an .808 OPS and .344 on-base percentage. What’s most encouraging, perhaps, is that I don’t think anyone believes this is the ceiling.
Last year, he managed a .356 OBP – and he was far from at his best from start to finish. Seeing this guy post a .360-.370 on-base percentage wouldn’t surprise anybody. Pairing that with his ability to drive the ball makes him one of the most dangerous threats in the Chicago lineup, a rare table setter capable of crushing starters if they make early mistakes.
So, as the team heads out on another road trip, let’s hope this Kyle Schwarber-powered offense can continue flying high – led by a guy who truly never quits and is ready to take that next step as a major piece of the Chicago Cubs lineup.