Last Sunday in Milwaukee served as a bit of a coming out party for Kyle Schwarber, who launched a grand slam and a three-run homer in his first two at-bats to beat the Brewers into submission. He’s gone on an absolute rampage since, posting a 1.534 OPS with a .594 wOBA and 275 wRC+ over his last 33 plate appearances. We’ll continue as soon as you return your jaw back to its proper position.
Even better: pic.twitter.com/YVFO6mIWGI
— Brad (@ballskwok) August 6, 2019
Only the Twins’ Nelson Cruz (308, 0.9) has a higher respective wRC+ and fWAR marks over that same period, though comparing such things over a week and a half really doesn’t get us anywhere. It is interesting to note, however, that Schwarber’s 0.8 fWAR in the last week and a half is exactly twice what he’d put up prior to that in the season. While extreme, it’s a sign that the numbers are finally starting to reflect what many have known was possible all along.
Despite what you see in the batting average column, Schwarber has been raking for quite some time. He currently has 26 home runs, 58 runs scored, and 60 RBI on the season, not to mention an .825 OPS and 12.2% walk rate that’s higher than any member of the active roster. And he’s doing all that with a .254 BABIP for the season that is 34 points lower than his mark from last year.
Compare that to Javy Báez (.356 BABIP), Kris Bryant (.330), or even Anthony Rizzo (.300) and you’ll realize Schwarber has been extremely unlucky this season. It’s not all just poor fortune, since facing a heavy dose of shifts is going to have an impact on his performance. But Schwarber is seventh in MLB with an average exit velocity of 94.4 mph and is only really getting hits when he smashes balls into either the gaps or the bleachers.
Heck, his 1.037 OPS in the second half was accompanied by a ludicrously low .221 BABIP. Regardless, Schwarber has been an absolute machine at the plate over the last 10 games, going 10-for-24 with four bombs, 13 RBI, and seven walks to just two strikeouts.
That last piece shows how well he’s seeing the ball at the moment, and it’s not just a recent thing. Extending back to the All-Star break, Schwarber has 10 walks and nine strikeouts in 24 games. There was a stretch where it seemed like he was so sick of striking out looking that he became more aggressive early in the count and stopped taking walks. His approach has settled back into something more conducive to strong production since shifting back out of the leadoff spot.
This stretch of baseball from the lefty slugger has also coincided with a pretty hot stretch from the Cubs, one that has seen them go 7-3 overall and 5-1 at Wrigley. Speaking of, Schwarber’s tendency to hit better in the sunshine coincides with the team’s overall production, as his .889 OPS during the day is .110 higher than his nighttime OPS of .779. The Cubs are 31-18 overall and 25-10 at Wrigley during the day.
What remains to be seen for both Schwarber and the Cubs, however, is if they can remember to pack their big boy pants and continue this torrid pace on the road. They’ll get their chance starting Thursday, as a 10-game road trip could very well show everyone if this is actually who the Cubs and Schwarber are in 2019.