Trying to Hammer Home Just How Good Kyle Schwarber Has Been ...

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Trying to Hammer Home Just How Good Kyle Schwarber Has Been …

Chicago Cubs

Ask any Cubs fan Who’s leading the offense right now? and they’ll probably respond, correctly, with Nick Castellanos (well, some will probably say some non-Castellanos person, but I can only do so much for those who don’t want to be helped).

Since joining the team on August 1st, Castellanos hasn’t just been the best offensive player in Chicago, he’s actually been the 11th best offensive player in all of MLB, which is freakin’ awesome (and sounds about right, seeing as he’s never not hitting home runs or doubles). But he’s not representing the Cubs at the top of the leaderboards all by himself.

In fact, one other member of the Cubs has been pretty darn good since August 1st, and you might be surprised to see just how good he’s actually been.

Welcome to the party, Kyle Schwarber!

Over his last 102 plate appearances, Kyle Schwarber is slashing .287/.392/.678 which is good for a 168 wRC+ (68% better than the league average hitter and 18th best in MLB during that stretch). And while Castellanos has certainly gotten the better results and most of the glory, the two are basically neck and neck (in fact, in many ways, Schwarber has a more solid foundation with 3x as many walks and roughly the same amount of strikeouts, but we’re not here to compare them – they’ve both been great and I’m just happy it’s happening).

As for why it’s happening: I’m not going to hit you over the head with all of the peripherals again today – we just did that a week ago – but if you’re interested in understanding the nuts and bolts behind Schwarber’s resurgence, I suggest starting where we left off last week (pretty much everything still holds true):

With all of that out of the way, let’s get to the part where we cut his season off on favorable dates to make his numbers look really, really good (it doesn’t hurt that he went 3-3, 2B, HR, BB last night).

For the season as a whole, the Cubs left fielder is slashing .236/.329/.515 (112 wRC+) with 33 home runs and 77 RBI. And while that is perfectly acceptable right there on the surface, Schwarber pretty clearly turned a corner around the mid-way point of the season.

In fact, this is a pretty fantastic Twitter thread to discover exactly that:

To summarize: The thread shows how Schwarber has been a more productive offensive force since July 1st than guys like Paul Goldschmidt, Gleyber Torres, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Nolan Arenado, and Max Muncy – none of whom, by the way, have actually been bad!

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

But I promised some cutoffs (you can use these bolded headlines against your Schwarber-hating friends at the bar this weekend – no extra charge), so let’s do it.

Last ~300 PAs:

Since roughly the beginning of June, Schwarber has stepped up to the plate 300 times, slashing .252/.333/.579 (129 wRC+) during that stretch. In raw numbers, that includes 1 triple, 16 doubles, 23 home runs, and 56 RBI. Last season, a 129 wRC+ would’ve ranked among the top-30 hitters in all of baseball, and Schwarber has been that good for 300 plate appearances. Not bad, eh?

Equally impressively, Schwarber has struck out only 22.7% of the time during that stretch, which is actually .1 percentage point BETTER THAN the league average. Kyle Schwarber: contact hitter. As I’m sure you’d guess, Schwarber’s 10% walk rate during that stretch is also better than average.

But my favorite number from this prolonged period of excellence is pretty simple: .327 ISO. Kyle Schwarber’s isolated power over his last 300 plate appearances is behind only 5 players in all of MLB – you may have heard of some of them:

  1. Mike Trout: .381 ISO
  2. Nelson Cruz: .380
  3. Yordan Alvarez: .354
  4. Cody Bellinger: .332
  5. Josh Donaldson: .330
  6. Kyle Schwarber: .327

And herein lies why it’s so easy to dream on Schwarber’s upside. His power is *elite*. If he can find a way to improve the rest of his game (as he seemingly has), he will instantly become one of the best hitters in baseball.

Last ~150 PAs:

Since just after the All-Star break, Kyle Schwarber has stepped up to the plate 157 times and the numbers are even better in that stretch: .263/.357/.657 (153 wRC+).

Strictly speaking, that 153 wRC+ should be the thing to stick out, but I know most of us will be attracted to the .263 batting average. That may not win Schwarber a batting title any time soon, but a .263 batting average is well within the range that’ll appease most traditionalists – and he’s doing that with a ridiculously low (even for him) .223 BABIP (in other words, he should probably have an even higher average).

But here’s where thing get absolutely bonkers. Remember that .327 ISO from the last period? Well, in this stretch, Schwarber’s isolated power number is up to .394 – second best in all of MLB during that stretch. And the crazy part is that’s not even the crazy part.

Wait for it …

Wait for it …

Despite being the second-best power hitter in baseball for over a month and a half now, Kyle Schwarber’s strikeout rate during that period is down to 17.8%!

That’s a Ben Zobristian level. Put in relative terms, he’s striking out 18% less than the league average hitter over his last 157 PAs while hitting for power 109% better than the league average hitter. I just … what do you even say to that? I have already bolded it!

I could go on and use more random cutoffs to continue proving this point, but if that doesn’t do it for you, I don’t know what will. Kyle Schwarber is in the middle of an absolutely brilliant stretch of baseball – results and otherwise – and it’s been an eye-popping pleasure to watch.

If this is the guy he is from now on, the Cubs have to hold onto him and stick him in the middle of their lineup every day of the week.

Author: Michael Cerami

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