What You Hope to See (and Not) from Schwindel, Largest Contracts, and Other Cubs Bullets

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What You Hope to See (and Not) from Schwindel, Largest Contracts, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

The new show that dropped yesterday was a solid start. That’s how spoiler-free I am!

•   We recently discussed what Frank Schwindel can be, realistically, for the Cubs in 2022, and although you’d be foolish to project him to be what he showed in consecutive Rookie of the Month months in August and September, it isn’t that hard to look at his situation, his story of being blocked, and the quality of his contact, and say that he might be a useful hitter for the Cubs next year. As Evan Altman writes, the Cubs don’t need Schwindel to be the second (but older) coming of Juan Soto to be a very valuable piece of the Cubs’ team of the next several years. They just need him to be solid. The guy he showed he could be last year, even after you regress some of the good fortune.

•   To that end, one of Sahadev Sharma’s recent predictions for 2022 is that Schwindel will be just that: “for real.” No one expects a superstar like he showed in the results column last year, but the way he was succeeding – we’ve been saying this! – is very much unlike the kinds of two-month hot streaks where the holes are extremely easy to spot (contrast with, for example, the early success of Patrick Wisdom, which came with some obvious concerns … which manifested in the second half). With Schwindel, he just kinda did everything well in the batted ball department: mostly hit it hard in the air, basically handled every pitch type, didn’t strike out a lot, took non-zero walks, etc. It wasn’t a set of underlying data that supported a 163 wRC+ necessarily, but a well above-average hitter? Yes.

•   If you’re hoping for continued success, Sharma points to two things to watch out for next year: the groundball rate and the chase rate (hey, that was one of Kevin Goldstein’s regression indicators). Schwindel’s groundball rate last year with the Cubs (41.4%) was slightly better than league average, but that’s not an area where he’s going to have a lot of flexibility. As a big, slugging type, to be productive, he needs to stay off the ground, and he was right on that border last year. As for chase rate, he swung outside of the zone 38.0% of the time with the Cubs, which was not outrageous (league average is 31.3%), but is in the bottom 40 of the league among guys with at least 200 PAs.

•   High-contact types like Schwindel are frequently among the high chase guys – they are good at making contact, and thus they swing a lot because that’s just always been their game – but the more you go out of the zone, the harder it is to make good contact. So even if you’re not whiffing like crazy on chase pitches, you might be putting more crappy contact into play than you want, and eventually that catches up to you. So that’s why we’ll watch it closely on Schwindel. That said, there are a LOT of really good hitters – similar styles – who chase as much or more than Schwindel (Nick Castellanos, Eloy Jimenez, Gio Urshela, Bo Bichette, Avisail Garcia, Tim Anderson). Much of the rest of the bottom 40 are guys who strike out a lot. That’s why chasing is bad for MOST hitters, by the way.

•   It’s a fun read over at MLBTR on the largest contracts in history for each team. The Cubs’ entry is already well known to you (Jason Heyward, 8/$184M), but what’s most interesting to me are the deals that are extremely OLD. As in, the teams that haven’t signed a bigger contract in nearly a decade or longer. In some cases, you understand, because their biggest deal in the past was enormous. In other cases, it’s really sad: the Mariners and Robinson Cano (10/$240M in 2013), the Giants and Buster Posey (8/$159M in 2013), the Reds and Joey Votto (10/$225M in 2012), the Twins and Joe Mauer (8/$184M in 2010), the A’s and Eric Chavez (6/$66M in 2004(!)), the Pirates and Jason Kendall (6/$60M in 2000(!!!)).

•   The Cardinals’ biggest contract ever, by the way, was the Paul Goldschmidt extension a couple years ago, at 5/$130M. I’m sure I heard it at the time, but I didn’t realize at this moment that it was their biggest contract ever. Of course, the portion of Nolan Arenado’s deal that they acquired (and slightly extended) from the Rockies is actually even bigger in terms of the guarantee (7/$163M).

•   Adbert getting after it:

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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.