Ian Happ and Kyle Schwarber Among League’s Elite Walk Rates
You’re going to hear Kyle Schwarber and Ian Happ’s names in potential trade talks as this inevitably crazy offseason progresses. Both young hitters produced more offense than an average MLB hitter (115 and 106 wRC+, respectively) last season, which is sort of crazy when you think about the general perception that their performances were disappointing.
Part of the reason the two sluggers were able to put up overall numbers that contradict general perception was their walk rates. Schwarber (15.3%) ranked sixth best in the National League and eight best in all of MLB last year. And not far behind was Happ (15.2%), whose near identical rate puts him in the same tier as the league’s ultra-patient hitters.
When you consider trading from this current crop of young Cubs hitters, ask yourself the same question I keep coming back to: Which other young hitters regularly draw walks and show light-tower power potential? The answer is basically no one. The only other players who were 25 years old or younger last season with similar walk rates were, wait for it, Bryce Harper (18.7%) and Juan Soto (16.0%).
Theo Epstein has mentioned repeatedly that the big changes for next season need to come from within and that getting better performance from their current crop of talented players is paramount. Now imagine if Schwarber and Happ can just manage to hit around 15-20 more pitches harder next season.