With a pair of home runs Friday night, Kyle Schwarber was swinging like Anthony Rizzo. No, seriously, he’s swinging like Rizzo.
“I think it’s more movement, as far as slowing him down a little bit,” Iowa Cubs hitting coach Andy Haines recently told Tommy Birch of the Des Moines Register. “Because the power was there in the big leagues. For us, down here, it’s more about maybe controlling the movements a little more, taking the upper body out of his swing.”
And controlling the movements is exactly what Schwarber has done since arriving in Iowa.
The stills and side-by-side video below come from his most recent Iowa game and that grand slam against the Cardinals this year. Of note on the latter, pay attention to Schwarber’s bat resting on his shoulder before he begins his first movements and load. His bat essentially rests on the Cubs logo portion of his jersey before he gently raises his hands into a hitting position. This is exactly what Schwarber has changed during his AAA stint.
Before he absolutely unloaded on an inside breaking pitch in Iowa, the lefty slugger’s hands and bat weren’t resting on the Cubs logo of his jersey. Instead, they were slightly outstretched with a slight waggle. Perhaps this is permitting Schwarber to get into a hitting position much easier. Here, take a look:
Schwarber’s recent swing iteration actually looks similar to when he debuted as a rookie. As you can see below in his first career dinger, Kyle doesn’t rest his bat on his shoulder pre-pitch. Somewhere along the last two years, War Bear started to incorporate more upper body movement. Maybe the recent adjustment in Iowa is more about getting back to what made the slugger successful than it is trying something new.
With Iowa, the Cubs left fielder is 7-for-19 with two walks and two homers, the latter of which came in his most recent game. However, he has struck out nine times in his 21 plate appearances. Most of those strikeouts came in from a pair of hat tricks early and may have been a result of him employing this new mechanical adjustment for the first time, though.
The key takeaway, numbers aside, is that Schwarber has made a noticeable change that involves not resting his bat on his upper chest. This change may be limiting his upper body movement, much to the delight of Andy Haines, whose aim was to accomplish just that.
In only one week, War Bear handled a demotion by working his butt off and making a significant modification to his mechanics. He is looking more comfortable at the plate already, as evidenced by the balls he deposited over the Principal Park wall in his most recent game.