Cubs News: How Kyle Schwarber both excelled and fell short with Chicago

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /
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Kyle Schwarber / Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

Cubs: A lot of Kyle Schwarber’s weaknesses stood out this season

Outside of the home runs and walks, there was a lot of whiffs and some struggles over periods of time. Schwarber was always going to strikeout a bit more than the average player. FanGraphs considers a 20 percent K rate average, and Schwarber’s career mark is 28 percent.

In 2017 he struggled a great deal. At one point, he was sent to the minors for a little while before coming back. He posted a 30.9 percent K rate, which is very awful. It did go down in 2018 (27.5 percent) and 2019 (25.6 percent), but it went back up to 29.5 percent in 2020 when he hit just .188. While many people might not have ever seen it, Epstein once thought he had the skill to be a legit good hitter beyond just home runs and walks.

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In addition to whiffs, Schwarber being a heavier pull hitter (43.8 percent pull) and hitting 17.8 percent line drives vs. 41.1 percent ground balls in his career has resulted in an overall .267 BABIP. Note that last year his groundball rate and pull rate were both right around 50 percent. Put these factors together and you have a lot of outs on groundballs pulled into the shift. Not spraying the ball as much and not hitting as many line drives (21 percent was considered the estimated average by FanGraphs) made getting hits harder when the defense was ready with the shift.

Then there is the power, which while we mentioned was a positive, is also somewhat of a shortcoming. There was expectation of him becoming a 40+ home run hitter with the way he can hit the ball. He has hit between 26-38 home runs from 2017-2019.

Again, still very good, but he has hit over 35 home runs just once, and in time where hitters are mashing the ball out of the ballpark more than ever, the value of a low-mid 30s home run producer is not quite as big is it was a few years ago. He still can be that guy in the future with whoever he plays with, but so far he has not reached that point.

We can mention the ups and downs on defense, but that is an element of his game that is not expected to reach Gold Glove-caliber status ever. It is just an argument to make he is a DH and he could have been sold high after 2016.

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Now we see if Schwarber will be part of the future Cubs plans. He could get an extension per Gordon Wittenmyer, but time will tell. If it is the end, then his legacy is pretty much set as the guy who was a hero for the team that gave us the long awaited World Series championship. Those hits and home runs will live in our memories for the rest of our lives.