Cubs: Frank Schwindel’s performance has matched our worst fears

(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

April wasn’t a particularly great month for a lot of Chicago Cubs, but amidst all those struggling, Frank Schwindel, the hero of the second half last year, has looked dreadful. In the early going, Schwindel has justified all the worries about him heading into this year.

On a base level, the numbers are simply unacceptable right now for a starter on a team that’s trying to be at least somewhat competitive. Through 80 plate appearances so far, Schwindel has swung it for a brutal .211/.250/.329 slash line, good for a 68 OPS+ which, among the regulars, is worse than everyone save for Nick Madrigal.

Bad luck hasn’t defined Schwindel’s lack of success either. His Baseball Savant page is painted blue with no stat breaching the 30th percentile save for his strikeout percentage (46th). A good way to see how things have gone wrong for him is the batted balls, where half(!) of his contact results in ground balls and only 1.7 percent of his hits are barreled compared to eight percent last year. He’s not hitting the ball hard and it’s a coin flip for it to end up on the ground.

It’s not helped by the fact that his already above-average chase rate increased. He now chases 36.5 percent of the time, up from 34.6 last year. There won’t be much improvement unless Schwindel gets pitchers back inside the zone against him, but even there he hasn’t been great. His zone contact percentage has dropped from 87.1 percent to a far below average 75.2 percent.

Cubs: It should be Alfonso Rivas, not Frank Schwindel, manning first base

If there’s one thing clear, it’s that there are fewer and fewer reasons for David Ross to play Schwindel over Alfonso Rivas at first. At only 25, Rivas is at an age where he’s more likely to have an impact on the Cubs long-term, and he’s clearly the hot hand right now. Yes, the Cubs do not look that competitive right now, but you cannot really give off the impression of a team really trying to win with a sub-replacement level player taking up a majority of the plate appearances there are.

It’s not time to give up yet, but Schwindel’s struggles should translate to more intermittent starts. Perhaps Ross will start giving him shots at DH so he can play with Rivas at first. Maybe it means platooning him with Rivas to play to his advantage against lefties. He has to earn his way back to a regular starting role.

Next. Cubs avoid any controversial roster-trimming drama. dark

Cubbies Crib
Cubbies Crib /

Want your voice heard? Join the Cubbies Crib team!

Write for us!

Schwindel still has a place on this team for now. There’s still plenty of time for him to right the ship, but this is the unfortunate reality of what we thought he could be. As much as we all hoped he’d pull a Max Muncy and stay a consistent producer on the team, there was also the real possibility the bottom would fall out. For now, the bottom is falling out.