Kyle Schwarber continues to get a lot of attention in Chicago. He is a fan favorite. He is a likeable, blue collar player. He has done great things since arriving on the scene. He has the most post-season home runs in franchise history. His epic return for the World Series after a serious knee injury is a story of legend.
But what is Schwarber?
Is he the new Bambino? Or is he something else?
People are perplexed because Schwarber has the label of being a "pure" hitter. He gets contact. He can drive the ball. He has a good eye. He is an "on base" machine. But the myth may have overtaken the man.
Schwarber's first season in 2015 showed promise. At 22, he played in 69 games, had 232 AB, hit 16 HR, 43 RBI. His batting average was only .246. He struck out 77 times (+33% of the time).
In 2016, his season was lost due to an outfield collision. He returned to become a World Series hero.
Now, at age 24, he has played 41 games. In 156 AB, he has 7 HR and 19 RBI. He has a .186 BA. He has struck out 51 times (32.7%). The low batting average and continued high strike out totals is a real concern.
A comparison that comes to mind is Adam Dunn. Chicago fans remember Dunn's time as a struggling White Sox at the end of his career.
Dunn debuted at age 21 for the Reds. In 2001, he played in 56 games, hit 19 HR, 43 RBI, hit .262.
In his first full season at age 22, he hit 26 HR, 71 RBI, .249 BA.
In his third year, he hit 27 HR, 57 RBI, .215 BA.
Dunn played in 14 seasons. He ended his career with 462 HR, 1168 RBI and .237 BA.
The question is whether you would accept Schwarber with a Dunne-like career.
The expectations and initial comparisons had him starting at Babe Ruth to being another Anthony Rizzo, a .300 hitting power bat near the top of the order. But Schwarber has yet to sustain a high batting average in his major league career.
The Cubs want to keep Schwarber in the daily line up because of his bat. But look at the other players missing time because of it: Almora, Happ and Jay. Happ has taken the local media by storm. In 31 AB, he has hit 2 HR, 5 RBI, .323 BA playing mostly out of position in the OF.
The log jam of young players is a positive for the Cubs. But there will be a point of diminishing returns if they do not receive sufficient playing time in order succeed.
Schwarber was once considered an untouchable trade chip. We will have to see if the front office changes its mind on him.