Despite grumblings from Chicago Cubs fans and constant trade speculation, Kyle Schwarber has started to put together notable improvements in his game.
Kyle Schwarber has been the most polarizing Chicago Cubs player since Big Z, Carlos Zambrano. While Schwarber isn’t nearly the fiery and emotionally volatile player Big Z was, he has become polarizing to the fanbase due to his unreached ceiling and untapped potential.
In many ways, Schwarber’s potential and talent has taken the same route as his young teammate, 2018 National League MVP runner-up Javier Baez. With all the talent in the world, prodigious power and rampant trade rumors circling at every turn, both of these Cubs have had to deal with a ton of outside noise and untold pressure early in their careers.
They’ve also each had to deal with injuries that have cost them important regular season time, although Schwarber’s 2016 injury cost him significantly more: basically the entire duration of that campaign. They each played a huge role in the march to a trophy in 2016 as 23-year-olds – Baez putting the Cubs on his shoulders in the first two rounds of the playoffs, winning NLCS MVP; Schwarber pulling a Willis Reed in coming back from injury to hit in the World Series, serving as DH in Cleveland and going 7-for-17 in the series. That’s not even mentioning sparking the game-winning rally that ultimately clinched the Cubs their first World Series championship in over 100 years.
2018 also saw them break out to varying degrees, although Baez was clearly on a different level, sparked by more playing time and a shift back to his natural position, shortstop – a change that went full-time at the end of the year with the injuries and suspension of Addison Russell. And, while Baez had a great offensive and defensive showing in 2018 at 5.3 WAR, Schwarber had a solid one; in fact, he was much better than most casual observers realized when you delve into the numbers; most notably his 3.2 WAR.