It’s been a significant story line to follow this offseason, from the moment we first heard that Kyle Schwarber was on a “mission” to transform his body. And, to anyone in attendance at the Cubs Convention this weekend, it was clear: Schwarber really is a man transformed.
We saw the intense workout video the Cubs put out, and we saw the man himself this weekend looking fit and trim:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) January 13, 2018
— Sun-Times Sports (@suntimes_sports) January 14, 2018
By changing his diet, fitness routine, sleep pattern, etc., Schwarber is simply looking to control what he can control heading into 2018. Being healthier won’t – in isolation – make him a dramatically different ballplayer, but it should help with his quickness and agility in the outfield and on the bases, and, perhaps most importantly, should help guard against injury and improve recovery times. Simply put, being in good shape helps in so many ways.
Theo Epstein points out, though, that it could help Schwarber at the plate, too.
“There were so many balls last year that he just fouled straight back, and in the past, he had driven them,” Epstein said, per Cubs.com. “If he’s a little more athletic and a little more limber, it can only help.”
I think most of any offensive improvement you see from Schwarber in 2018 is going to come because he is simply continuing to adjust and develop at the plate, and because he was already getting into a really good place in the second half last year anyway. But if the athleticism improves his contact ability just a bit more, and also improves the bat speed a click, then there could be additional incremental improvement.
If you’re worried about a loss of power accompanying the loss of weight, by the way, there would be some reduction in the natural thump – HOWEVER, if the bat speed and barreling ability is improved, you could actually see an increase in power, not a loss.
On the whole, getting into better shape and living a little more healthily can only help Schwarber. Maybe it shows up on the field and maybe it doesn’t, but since you cannot control the shape of the Clayton Kershaw curveball coming at you, then you might as well do everything else that you can control.