You may not have realized this, but before yesterday’s lead-taking home run to right field, Kyle Schwarber hadn’t hit one out of a big league park for 535 excruciatingly long days. Pretty weird, right?
The last home run Schwarber hit (that counted for something) was during the Cubs’ Game 3 NLCS loss to the Mets back in 2015! (October 20, 2015 to be exact). And it’s been 573 days since his last regular season home run.
Of course, you need to be on the field to hit a home run and injuries have prevented Schwarber from doing that, but it was still nice to see the old home run trot from the Cubs’ left fielder:
— #Statcast (@statcast) April 6, 2017
At the end of the inning prior to Schwarber’s homer, the Cubs’ win expectancy according to FanGraphs was down to just 17.7%. After Yadier Molina’s sticky situation, Jon Jay’s walk, and, most importantly, the Schwarber home run, the Cubs’ win expectancy jumped to 69.9%. Which is nice.
And he sure as hell got a hold of it:
— Daren Willman (@darenw) April 6, 2017
According to the ESPN Home Run Tracker, that home run was the 15th longest of the season so far (out of 104 total long balls).
But I’d like to go back to the comment attached to the original Statcast Tweet for a moment, because it got me thinking: “At 112.1 mph, this homer is the hardest hit ball @kschwarb12 has ever had against a lefty in the #Statcast era.”
112 MPH off the bat is a really hard hit ball, regardless of the handedness of the pitcher. With that said, it is certainly a reasonable thing to point when both the batter and pitcher share the same dominant hand and the batter has struggled with lefties before … quite a bit.
Consider that in 2015, Kyle Schwarber slashed just .143/.213/.268 off lefties, with a scary looking 44.3% strikeout rate (31 wRC+, .217 wOBA). Yeah. It may be just 38 games and 61 plate appearances during his Major League debut half-season, but that is far from being totally not worth mentioning. So then, seeing him take a lefty out like that was really encouraging (only 2 of his 16 regular season home runs had come off lefties previously), right?
Eh, not according to Schwarber.
When asked whether he takes more satisfaction hitting a homer against a lefty, Schwarber responded, “Nope. Just being able to come up in a big spot, it’s always a good feeling.” Schwarber would know that feeling better than most. Apparently (thanks to some awesome stat digging by Nate Latsch, MLB.com), seven of Schwarber’s 17 career regular season home runs have been either game-tying (2) or lead-taking (5).
That is unbelievable.
So far this season, Schwarber is leading the Cubs with his pretty-looking .300/.500/.700 slash line from the leadoff spot, and he’s already been worth 0.2 WAR! If he really is the hitter we all think he may be/is, I’m not sure how to feel. Because if he’s really capable of a .900+ OPS, I wonder if there’s ever been a more dangerous top three batting order … like, ever.
Kyle Schwarber is on pace for a 10 WAR season.
This is totally fair to do after three games, don't @ me.
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) April 7, 2017