Chicago Cubs: That’s one way to beat the shift
If this were the 1920s, 1960s or even the 1990s, Schwarber would be a perennial All-Star, and his slash line would be something like .270/.370/.550. Alas, it’s 2020 and Schwarber was born in the wrong era.
Any ball he hits in the hole is an out. Any ball he rips up the middle is often an out. Any ball he hits the other way in the hole is often an out. Basically, the only ways Kyle Schwarber gets a hit is when he hits it so hard that fielders have to pull a Roger Dorn or if he hits it over everyone’s head.
Many fairweather and casual fans will often say “just take it the other way” in reference to beating the shift. And, while that may work out just fine in MLB The Show or on their Sunday slowpitch team, it’s easier said than done in the Major Leagues. Schwarber has attempted to beat the shift with bunts, letting the ball travel farther and ripping it the other way, and increasing launch angle at times. Problem is, it’s hard for a tiger to change his stripes.
Growing up, my dad always told me if you hit the ball hard on a line, good things will happen. Most MLB hitters and coaches probably would have said the same thing before this century. This past fall, Schwarber ranked 15th in average exit velocity in all of baseball while hitting a measly .188. Unfortunately, with statistical models and graphs for everything, MLB scouts know exactly where to deploy a defense for maximum efficiency. It’s just really hard for a guy like Schwarber to beat the shift when everything is stacked against him.