It’s no secret why Kyle Schwarber was sent to Iowa. The Cubs brass wanted the hulking slugger to limit his upper body movement and use the entire field to his advantage. Since returning from a successful trip to AAA, he has blasted balls all over the field to a .420 wOBA. Mission accomplished, War Bear.
Prior to Schwarber’s “demotion,” he still exhibited an ability to hit the ball hard and far, which led to an above-average xOBA of over .330. His demotion wasn’t a direct result of weak contact, then, but rather a reliance towards the pull side of the field.
He hit several balls over 100 mph to the outfield even in the midst of his worst slump, but few were towards the left-center gap, as illustrated below. The first image represents the quantity of 100+ mph batted balls Schwarber hit, and the second shows how many of those balls were outs.
Back from Iowa with more of a full beard instead of a goatee, Schwarber’s spray map has followed his broadened facial hair pattern. Notice how in the first illustration below that the dark red spots are gone, reflecting how he’s using more of the field.
These hard-hit balls are no longer being recorded as outs, as every single 100+ mph ball to the outfield has been a hit.
Schwarber’s impressive play has raised his total wOBA to .317, which is a few ticks below the league average of .321. And so, even in War Bear’s lowest point, he’s still been more valuable than a large majority of MLB hitters. Going forward, I expect his numbers to continue to rise because he’s now using the opposite field with authority without sacrificing an ounce of power.
There’s good reason to be excited about Schwarber. But if you aren’t excited, then sit by yourself alone in a room and reflect on your inability to appreciate impending greatness.