Kyle Schwarber Is Back - Last Night's Breakout Was Just a Taste of Things to Come

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Kyle Schwarber Is Back – Last Night’s Breakout Was Just a Taste of Things to Come

Chicago Cubs

As he stepped up to the plate in the top of the first inning yesterday, Kyle Schwarber probably didn’t know how good of a night he was about to have.

And to be sure, after popping up to the catcher to end the inning with two men on, he probably though it was headed in the wrong direction. But boy would he have been wrong.

By the time all was said and done, the Cubs left fielder knocked in four of the Cubs’ six runs on the strength of a triple and not one, but two home runs.

Let’s take a look at those three extra-base hits and have some fun with his numbers:

Here’s a look at the exit velocities and distances of each of those three blasts:

  1. Home Run (16) – 404 Feet, 102.8 MPH
  2. Triple (1) – 389 Feet, 98.0 MPH
  3. Home Run (17) – 409 Feet, 111 MPH

As you can see, Schwarber’s now got 17 home runs on the season, which is third most on the Cubs. However, despite hitting just two fewer long balls than Kris Bryant this season, Schwarber’s had nearly 100 fewer plate appearances and his .243 ISO is exactly .001 higher than Bryant’s, which is no small feat.

On the season, Schwarber’s slash line still adds up to about eight percent worse than the league average (92 wRC+), but as we know, there are a whole lot of caveats and important distinctions that come along with that.

For one thing, since all the way back to the beginning of June – before he was even sent down to Triple-A, Schwarber’s slash line is a killer .240/.348/.604. That’s good for a 141 wRC+, which would be a top 15 bat in the NL.

And since getting recalled from the Minors, things look even better.

(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)

In the 57 plate appearances since returning on July 6, Kyle Schwarber is slashing .280/.368/.680 with three doubles, a triple, and five home runs. His walk rate during that stretch is still an excellent 12.3% and his strikeout rate has come down to 26.2% (that’s still higher than average, but with that power, you don’t think twice about it).

And get this: Schwarber’s done all of this damage despite a .300 BABIP (which is higher than his career average, but it’s not like he’s been ridiculously lucky or anything like that). Oh, and his ISO during this stretch? A laughable .400. That’s literally twice as good as a really good ISO.

Another good sign – that I’m sure you could have guessed based on these power numbers – a 40% hard hit rate. It’s obviously a small sample, but he has been absolutely smoking the ball lately.

But if you’re feeling like a contrarian today, you might point out that even while he was slumping, the power was still somewhat obvious. Instead, you’ll say, he displayed poor plate discipline and didn’t look like the “all around hitter” he’s supposed to be.

Well, here’s a look at some of his plate discipline numbers from his career, before his demotion, and after. I think they speak for themselves:

Swing Rate Out of the Strike Zone:

Career:  28.9%
Before AAA: 28.2%
Since AAA: 26.9%

Swing Rate in the Strike Zone:

Career:  66.4%
Before AAA: 65.8%
Since AAA: 69.5%

Contact Rate in the Strike Zone:

Career:  78.7%
Before AAA: 82.2%
Since AAA: 80.8%

What this says is that, since being recalled from Triple-A Iowa, Kyle Schwarber is swinging at fewer pitches out of the zone, more pitches in the zone, and is making more contact on the pitches he swings at in the zone than he has for his career. And, with the exception of some slightly better zone contact before being sent to Iowa, the same goes for his first half of the season versus now, too. That’s huge.

And it also means that in almost every discernible way (from plate discipline to batted ball data), Kyle Schwarber has not only been a better hitter since his return from Iowa than he was at the beginning of this season, but also for his short, but distinguished career. And if Schwarber is finally breaking out into the consistent, masher that we know he can be, this Cubs lineup just got FAR more dangerous.

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami