Kyle Schwarber has been a beast over the last few weeks thanks to a more balanced approach that sees him using the entire field with remarkable parity. This is a phenomenon we noticed about a month ago, so it’s not surprising in and of itself. But with the the trend continuing over 158 plate appearances since the start of August as Schwarber continues to rake, it’s becoming more clear that this isn’t some fluke.
With a 1.015 OPS and .410 wOBA over that span that includes 13 homers and 39 RBI, Schwarber is showing everyone what he really can be as a hitter. He’s pulling the ball at a 33% clip while going to center at 35% and going oppo at a 32% rate. That ability to use all fields has led to a big change in his BABIP, which has traditionally been much lower than league average. Even during a hot stretch at the start of August, Schwarber was batting just .240 on balls in play, well below his own .267 career tally.
Over the last month, however, he’s hitting to a .323 BABIP to lift his mark to .299 over the six weeks we’re focused on. Much of that comes from doing a better job of taking what pitchers give him and going the other way with two strikes. A .341 BABIP in those situations (91 PA’s) is the product of going oppo and to center 34.8% each. And while he’s only hitting .224 with a 92 wRC+ in that time, that’s just a wee bit better than the respective .119 and 25 marks he’d posted with two strikes through July.
No one has ever doubted Schwarber’s ceiling, it’s just that spending too much time in his basement has made it hard to reach. Now, however, he appears to have raised that low end to a significant degree while without sacrificing his on-base skills or prodigious power. To wit, his .788 OPS and .251 ISO over his first 412 plate appearances have jumped to the aforementioned 1.015 and .367 in the time since.
There will no doubt be those who doubt the sustainability of this production, and more who laud the way it increases Schwarber’s trade value. The longer it goes, though, the more proof we have that it’s both real and spectacular. It also means Schwarber is a legit everyday left fielder who provides a boatload of value to the Cubs as a member of the lineup.