Chicago Cubs: Frank Schwindel needs to be the guy at first in 2022
At long last, the 2021 season is coming to a close with the Chicago Cubs officially eliminated from postseason contention – the earliest that’s been the case since 2014. Jed Hoyer has promised the team will be very active in free agency this offseason, so at least there’s that.
While that is exciting to hear, actions speak louder than words so it’s important for this front office to be accountable. We obviously want to make some big splashes this winter but we can’t overlook some of the production we’ve seen during the second half of this season. What I’m mainly referring to is the emergence of Frank Schwindel and what he’s been able to do for this team. He’s earned the right to be this team’s first baseman moving forward.
Since the Anthony Rizzo trade, Schwindel has come in and done everything the Cubs have asked and more. He’s batted .356 with an on-base percentage of .403, OPS of 1.057 and WAR of 1.6. He’s finally gotten the chance to be the guy after being behind the likes of Matt Chapman, Eric Hosmer and Rizzo throughout his career and he’s made the most of it.
Not only has he outperformed Rizzo, but he’s given the Cubs a lot of what they’re looking for in a player moving forward. Regular contact, limited strikeouts and the ability to drive the ball with authority without leaving gaping holes in his swing. Batting .363 with a .403 OBP may not be sustainable but this is exactly what the Cubs have been missing in recent years.
Sure, the Cubs have money to spend but Schwindel is making $570,000 this season. With his production the team would silly not to make Schwindel the guy at first base and turn their spending efforts elsewhere. He’s earned the right to win the job and this team should benefit as a whole as a result.
He may be 30 years old, but we mentioned who has blocked him from getting his opportunity in the big leagues and it’s never too late to break through. His emergence will give the front office more flexibility with their free agency decisions. More money can be pumped into the rotation and outfield as a result.
The trade for Nick Madrigal and dealing of Javier Baez has shown Hoyer’s commitment to a fresh start and a steering away from the feast-or-famine nature of the Cubs offense over the past few seasons. Madrigal’s ability to hit for contact is something the front office wants to emphasize and Schwindel brings that ability to the team as well, making the fit a no-brainer.
The Cubs would be silly not to give Schwindel the opportunity he’s been waiting for his entire career. With his contributions he’s given this group a realistic chance to bring in the right tools to compete in 2022. He’s given the Cubs optimism and a sense of confidence as we head into a crucial offseason.