As resistant as I’ve been to the idea that Kyle Schwarber had suddenly forgotten how to hit the baseball, I’m going to be similarly resistant to the idea that he has suddenly figured it back out.
Instead, I just want to note – and roll with and enjoy! – the natural ups and downs that young players experience as they develop at the big league level. As we recently discussed, that’s especially true when it comes to Schwarber, given his extremely unique post-college experience.
Last night, Schwarber had an especially good game at the plate, driving two doubled and a home run, and all three balls were ripped:
Is @kschwarb12 busting out?
— #Statcast (@statcast) June 8, 2017
That’s three balls essentially at or over 100 mph, and marked his first three-hit game of the season.
More than that, the double marked the first time he had a hit on a ball in play since May 17(!). Until last night, it had been a stretch of outs, strikeouts, walks, and homers. That was it. So, yeah, last night was a pretty big deal for him.
In one game, Schwarber raised his season line from .162/.289/.346 (72 wRC+) to .175/.297/.381 (82 wRC+).
I started going back to see about finding a “his last X games” kind of hot streak, but the reality is that a game like last night disproportionately skews things so much that I’ll just pass along the same “last 25 plate appearances” that Michael mentioned in the Series Preview today: .238/.360/.762. Yes. Do that, Kyle.
For his part, Schwarber says he’s been working to shorten up his swing, and Joe Maddon sees greatly improved balance (MLB.com).
It has been especially encouraging lately to see Schwarber going the other way with authority – perhaps a response to the way pitchers had started to take advantage of him on the outer third of the plate. Don’t get me wrong: pulling the ball is often a good thing, as it is the best way to generate power. But if you’re a big, strong dude like Schwarber, with plenty of bat speed, you can afford to go the other way a little more often and still generate plenty of power. There’s a delicate balance there, and it seems like Schwarber is working on it.
For now, as far as we know, Schwarber remains in a platoon role, but the Cubs are scheduled to face four righty starters in this Rockies series.
Bonus concluding fun fact about the game:
Kyle Schwarber: first #Cubs player with 3 extra-base hits out of the 9-spot in the order since Grover Cleveland Alexander 6/20/1925
— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) June 8, 2017