Once the Chicago Cubs disassembled the core and embarked on a massive sell-off at the trade deadline, the bright spots were few and far between. One of them, though, was the opportunity guys like Frank Schwindel had to prove what they could do.
Schwindel, along with others like Rafael Ortega and Patrick Wisdom, took a majority of at-bats at their positions, and Schwindel put people on notice. In 259 plate appearances, the 29-year-old posted a 2.1 fWAR with a 152 wRC+ and a .326/.371/.591 slash line. Now, this includes a short stint with the Oakland A’s as well, but most of his damage came as a Cub.
With the Cubs, Schwindel put up a .342/.389/.613 slash line in 239 plate appearances. On the whole, he smashed 14 home runs (13 as a Cub), hit 20 doubles (19 with the Cubs) and only struck out 41 times on the year – earning NL Rookie of the Month honors in both August and September.
Wisdom set the club record for home runs by a rookie with 28, but also struck out just over 40 percent of the time, and Ortega struggled with left-handed pitching. Out of these three hitters, Schwindel is the only one that should start for the Cubs in 2022.
Wisdom and Ortega have certainly their roles as bench bats, but Schwindel is past the point of “small sample size” and is near the point of legitimate Major League success. He deserves a chance to see what he can do over a full season.
Obviously, he’s not a long-term fix for first base, seeing as he’s already nearly 30 years old, but for one or two seasons until the Cubs can permanently fill the spot? He’s the guy.
The big goal for the second half of 2021 was to find some contributors for the next Cubs teams and not necessarily core pieces, and the team did that with Schwindel. Not only is he a power hitter, but he rarely strikes out, which is another thing the Cubs have been preaching the past years. Schwindel wasn’t necessarily getting lucky either, with a hard contact rate of nearly 32 percent, producing fly balls almost 40 percent of the time.
Chicago Cubs: One way or another, Frank Schwindel will have a role next year
On top of Schwindel having success, the DH may be in the National League next year with the new CBA which gives the Cubs more incentive to keep him around to fill that role. It will be interesting to watch him next year now that pitchers have over 100 games of data and video to scout and see how to get him out consistently.
Sometimes a player’s big league success long-term can be determined by how well they adjust back to adjustments being made to them, and if Schwindel can do that it gives the Cubs a leg up on next year already. Jed Hoyer said in his end of season press conference Wednesday that he expects Schwindel to be a big part of the roster next year.
This will be an interesting offseason in Chicago. The organization doesn’t expect this to be a long rebuild, and money is available. It’s up to Hoyer to follow through and start putting together a competitive roster.