Cubs: Is Frank Schwindel finally getting things figured out?

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

Last season, Frank Schwindel emerged as a force to be reckoned with in the wake of Anthony Rizzo’s trade to the Bronx, spraying the ball all over the yard and earning NL Rookie of the Month honors in both August and September.

One of the biggest questions for the Chicago Cubs heading into 2022 was whether or not Schwindel’s success from the second half of last year was sustainable. Through his first 100 trips to the plate, though, the answer to that was a resounding, ‘no’.

He slashed just .200/.240/.295 during that span – and that line wasn’t dramatically altered in Friday’s series-opening loss against Arizona – but there’s cause for hope. After narrowly missing a go-ahead grand slam out in San Diego earlier this week, we’re seeing more and more hard contact from Schwindel.

Schwindel’s struggles so far this year starkly contrast with the work turned in by Alfonso Rivas, who enters action Saturday with a ridiculous 132 OPS+ in 50 plate appearances on the year. Of course, it’s worth nothing that’s about half the number of PAs Schwindel has – but Rivas has hit pretty much everywhere he’s been to this point, giving some cause for optimism.

Cubs know what Frank Schwindel is capable of – but he’s on a short leash

You can bet the Cubs will keep a close eye on what the numbers say about Schwindel in the weeks to come. Thanks to some perfectly-timed coincidences, he was spared a stint at Triple-A Iowa, but if he goes through another lengthy stretch filled with struggles, Chicago won’t hesitate to send him down. For now, though, they like what they see.

"“His BP [Friday], you’re just seeing the ball come off the bat better,” Cubs hitting coach Greg Brown told after Friday’s contest. “He’s using the whole field. That way, he can go back to being a good hitter instead of having to chase hits. That’s an important distinction.”"

When Schwindel is at his best, he’s definitely an all-fields kind of guy. I feel like on a near-daily basis last season, he was shooting balls into the opposite field gap for extra bases. Year over year, he’s seen a significant downtick in balls hit the other way, and has also been getting on top of the ball too often, instead of hitting line drives and elevating the ball.

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There have been hints that he’s turning a corner in recent days. If he can get back to driving the ball, he’ll add a sorely-needed power element to a Cubs offense that’s been inconsistent through the season’s first month-plus. If not, his days with the big league club could be numbered – especially if Rivas keeps hitting.