By now, you know Kyle Schwarber’s story.
He was drafted by the Cubs near the top of the first round in 2014 – considered a reach by many at the time – and then exploded onto the Major League scene just a year later, becoming a postseason hero in 2015. Then, with expectations sky-high, Schwarber blew out his knee in a collision in left field at the beginning of 2016, causing him to miss the rest of the season, before making a surprise and legendary return for the Cubs’ first World Series championship in over 100 years.
And then 2017 happened, with a much less storybook narrative.
With expectations higher than ever, Schwarber struggled in his first season back from injury (and first full Major League season overall). Half-way through the year, he was even demoted to Triple-A Iowa where he worked hard to get back on track and finish the season strong – which he did. And that takes us to now.
Unlike the winters before 2016 and 2017, expectations for Schwarber aren’t sky-high. In fact, many Cubs fans seem to be down on him quite a bit – and I suppose that’s understandable, given the way 2017 went.
But now that he’s another year removed from surgery and has dropped 15-20lbs since October, one person’s expectations for Schwarber are reaching new heights:
“Everyone is caught up in the weight-loss thing,” Schwarber told ESPN between workouts late last week. “I’m not. I’m training my body for 162 games times nine innings or maybe more. I want to be an MVP. I want to be a Gold Glover. I want to set my standards really high.”
That’s a quote from your must-read of the day from Jesse Rogers. There, Rogers writes about Schwarber’s intense offseason workout and training program, which includes drills with former pro football player Yo Murphy.
According to Rogers, Schwarber’s workout includes agility drills, indoor training sessions, and plenty of batting practice. So if you thought the weight loss was just an effort to “get into the best shape of his life,” it’s much more than that. It’s really a byproduct of constant hard work and training to be a better all-around baseball player, which, in reality, is far more important.
“As soon as that season ended, I wanted to do everything in my power not to have the feeling that I had this past year,” Schwarber said to Rogers. “I want to be great. I don’t want to just be known as some guy that played for the Cubs … I want to be the best player I can be.”
I won’t spoil more of the article, because it’s excellent and should be enjoyed in its entirety, so make sure you go over to ESPN and check it out.
Schwarber is going to be a monster next season, and it’s going to be something special to watch.