Man, it’s too bad the Cubs sent Kyle Schwarber down to Iowa again when he was batting .223 through July. He really seemed to be putting things together and you got the sense that he could have really contributed in August once he settled into a more consistent approach.
I’m sorry, what was that again?
It sounded like you said batting average really doesn’t matter much and that Schwarber is still with the team. And I thought I heard you mention something about how his elevated numbers are the result of a more contact-oriented approach that has seen him going the other way with increased frequency. Hold on, are you in my head?
You’ll be happy to know I managed to type those first two paragraphs with only one hand while I used the other to pat my own back. Schwarber used both hands on the bat Wednesday night as he clubbed a double and homer against Mets starter Noah “Thor” Syndergaard.
The dinger gave Schwarber a career-high 31, seven of which have now come in a resurgent August that has seen him pulling the ball less frequently. To wit, his double to right was more of an aberration than his homer to left-center. With just three games remaining in the month, Schwarber’s pull percentage (29.6) is lower than either his center (33.3) or oppo (37) marks.
That is a significant shift for a guy whose career splits there are 43.1/31.4/25.5, and we could well be seeing the kind of sustainable approach that allows Schwarber to be keep this up long-term. After hitting .223/.313/.475 with a very pedestrian .325 wOBA and 98 wRC+ through July, Schwarber is up to .250/.357/.583 with a .386 wOBA and 138 wRC+ since.
But you wanna hear something really wild? His BABIP during that time has actually gone down, from .241 to .234, despite an uptick in hard contact. That’s largely due to the fact that his line-drive rate has plummeted to 11.1% after sitting at 19% prior to August, which means flies and grounders are up. As you either know or can easily deduce, hard line drives produce the best results.
There’s still a lot of noise in the numbers, most of which should start settling over the next couple weeks, but it may actually be a very good sign that Schwarber’s BABIP is so low. I mean, just think about what happens if he can continue to take what he’s given and ride pitches the other way while improving to a more reasonable average on balls in play.
Mmmm, that would be fun.