Chicago Cubs: Why Kyle Schwarber will have an All-Star season
The Chicago Cubs Kyle Schwarber may have finally figured out his approach at the plate to become the Cubs most feared hitter
The Chicago Cubs left fielder Kyle Schwarber had his best season last year as he slashed .250/.339/.531 along with 38 home runs and 92 RBIs. Considering his .235 career batting average and atrocious first half, the adjustments he made in the 2nd half of 2019 may have indicated that the Cubs 4th overall draft pick from 2014 might have figured it out.
First half (353 plate appearances): .227/.320/.457 (.777 OPS), 18 home runs, 43 RBIs, 97 wRC+
Second half (257 PAs): .280/.366/.631 (.997 OPS), 20 HR, 49 RBIs, 151 wRC+
Source: NBC Sports Chicago
David Ross‘ early decision to bat Kris Bryant in the leadoff position means that Schwarber will find himself hitting further down in the lineup, which should be more comfortable for him. Rizzo will be hitting behind Bryant and Baez will most likely be hitting third, leaving Schwarber in the cleanup spot.
Having a structured daily lineup that doesn’t change will provide Schwarber more consistency at the plate. Schwarber was thrown the highest percentage of curveballs of all major league batters (14.7%), according to FanGraphs. This makes sense because the majority of his home runs last year were on fastballs. What’s changed is Schwarber’s approach at the plate.
The key is that he’s been able to lay off breaking pitches and narrow in on fastballs in the zone that he can drive out of the ballpark. Hitting in the cleanup spot for his career, Schwarber has slashed .393/.441/.787 with five home runs and 12 RBIs.
“He turned the corner.” –David Ross
On defense last year, Schwarber led all National League left fielders in errors with six, per FanGraphs. However, his immense production at the plate should offset his defensive liability. Schwarber’s ability to drive the ball with power to left field has changed the way opposing pitchers attack him. His coverage of the outer part of the plate and the ability to lay off breaking balls outside of the zone has forced pitchers to throw middle-in.
Many fans laugh and criticize Schwarber because he’s not the most gifted outfielder they have seen. Every time someone doubts him, he answers. Overweight? Gets in great shape by losing 20 lbs. Not a premier hitter? Hits 38 home runs despite a terrible first half. He has improved some facet of his game each and every year. Now in 2020, he finally puts it all together.