Cubs leadoff man Kyle Schwarber stepped to the plate Tuesday night against the White Sox and hammered Ivan Nova’s first pitch of the game into the left field bleachers. It was Schwarber’s 16th homer of the season, the last two of which have come on the first pitch he saw, and further emphasized the lefty’s more aggressive plate approach of late
Schwarber’s batting .279 over 66 June plate appearances, posting a 136 wRC+ and a .344 ISO that includes six homers. And he’s doing it while showing a good deal less patience at the plate, as his walk rate has dropped from 14.3% through May to just 6.1% this month.
That aggressiveness could be a byproduct of more favorable pitching matchups, becoming more comfortable in the leadoff spot, or seeing more appealing pitches. After initially struggling to pull the trigger in two-strike counts, it’s undeniable that Schwarber has implemented a conscious adjustment to ambush more pitches early.
But should we expect this newfound aggressiveness to continue? I’m honestly not sure. In Schwarber’s last 100 plate appearances — the point at which walks reach sample-size stability — he has just an 8% walk rate.
You can take this information and decide that, in the immediate future, Schwarber is likely to continue to swing at more pitches. On the other hand, we have over 1,000 previous plate appearances to suggest this is an anomaly that that Schwarber will inevitably adopt a more patient approach again at some point.
Or maybe the new approach is here to stay. It’s certainly possible we see Schwarbs continue to take early hacks as long as he’s batting in front of Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Javy Báez.