If Kyle Schwarber Can Be Average in a Couple Ways, He'll Be Great and Other Bullets

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If Kyle Schwarber Can Be Average in a Couple Ways, He’ll Be Great and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

OK, post-surgery follow-up appointment number two is this morning. Today, hopefully, I get my surprisingly large number of stitches out, get the all clear to start walking in my boot, and also get the green light to drive.

  • I love this read at The Athletic from Sahadev Sharma on the development challenges and burdensome expectations Kyle Schwarber faced last year. The bat will obviously and necessarily get the bulk of attention this year, but we are reminded, as Sharma writes, that Schwarber’s aggressive lifestyle changes this offseason were more about the kind of overall fitness that could help him in other parts of the game: “What Schwarber has done this offseason is attempt to reduce that risk. By changing his body, he hopes to improve his athleticism with the goal of making an average to slightly above-average offensive season more impressive by providing greater value with his glove and on the basepaths.”
  • Let’s play a little game: given that he was “down” at the plate last year and still managed a 102 wRC+, it’s not at all unreasonable to say that Schwarber could easily put up a – let’s be conservative – 115 wRC+ this year. Let’s imagine now that he did that, while playing a nearly full season of games, with average defense in left field and average base running ability. How much is that player worth? Well, there wasn’t a perfect parallel in 2017, but you know who was close? New Brewers star Christian Yelich, who put up a 115 wRC+ while running the bases very well, and playing slightly below average defense in center field (which nets slightly positive defensive value – in years before, he played more corner outfield, and was also slightly below average defensively there). Yelich was worth 4.5 WAR, and if we adjust that down to account for the baserunning value to make it closer to average, you wind up just slightly under 4.0 WAR. Brett Gardner put up a 108 wRC+, offered positive baserunning value and nearly neutral defensive value, and he was worth 3.8 WAR. So, basically, if Schwarber were a 115 wRC+ hitter with average defensive ability and average baserunning, he probably is worth 3.5 to 4.0 WAR.
  • … and the bat has way more potential than that. After his return from AAA last year, when he settled back into something more akin to his normal self, Schwarber hit .255/.338/.565 with a 131 wRC+. If he could pull that off over a full season with something close to average defense and average baserunning? Well then he’s 2017 Josh Reddick, who was worth 3.5 WAR in just 134 games. Or Justin Upton, who was worth 5.0 WAR over 152 games.
  • (As a reference point, Schwarber was worth 1.5 WAR in 129 games in 2017, rating as slightly below average defensively and on the bases.)
  • I love the confidence from the Cubs, and especially Javy Baez at the end:

  • Joe Maddon does what he can:

  • This sounds about right to me, since Cubs fans only remember Gary Gaetti for  dramatic homers (albeit not in the 9th inning):

  • He’s right. They can’t be shared enough, so here I am sharing them again:

  • Sammy Sosa, well, he took a picture:

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.