How Should The Cubs Use Kyle Schwarber Next Season?
The Chicago Cubs will have a logjam in the outfield ahead of the 2017 season.
Coming fresh off a World Series title, the Cubs need to brace themselves to repeat the title challenge. And the first things they need is to assemble the roster. We know some players are locks in the lineup, like Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell. But this time we are not going to focus on the infield or the rotation. This time, we’ll focus on the outfield.
Per MLB.com, if the season started today the Cubs would have Jason Heyward, Albert Almora and Ben Zobrist starting from right to left, respectively. Jorge Soler is now with the Kansas City Royals, and Dexter Fowler signed with the St. Louis Cardinals. But one key player hasn’t been mentioned, and that’s Kyle Schwarber.
Up to this day, no one knows what the Cubs will do with Schwarber. I’m pretty not even the management knows what to do with the former first-round pick.
Schwarber remains listed as a catcher, but he barely played last season. In fact, a ligament injury forced him to miss practically the entire season. And when he returned in the 2016 World Series, he wasn’t able to play defense and could only hit as a DH when the Cubs were on the road against the Cleveland Indians. Sure, the move paid off and Schwarber played a key role in Chicago’s title. But the National League doesn’t have a designated hitter, so Joe Maddon will have to find a place for Schwarber if he wants to have his bat on the lineup on a daily basis.
The big question is – where are the Cubs going to use Schwarbs? He’s a liability on the outfield and even though the team can “hide” in left, he still makes the team worst defensively. He’s not a catcher either, and even though he’d fit the mold of a “third” catcher, he won’t get enough reps to improve his game behind the plate. And as we mentioned earlier, the NL doesn’t have a full-time DH so he can’t be in the lineup solely due to his bat.
The most likely solution is to move Schwarber all over the field, just like Maddon did last year with Kris Bryant, Ben Zobrist and Javier Baez, just to mention a few. He would have limited defensive value, but it seems the best way to make him fit in the lineup everyday. Sticking him to left field could doom the Cubs, and having him as a catcher would be even worse.
However, Schwarber is a special talent. He slashed .246/.355/.487 with 16 HR and 43 RBI as a rookie. And even though he only played in the World Series for Chicago, he still contributed with seven hits in 17 ABs (.412).
And if the numbers aren’t enough, Schwarber can also do this:
Only Maddon knows the answer on how Chicago will use Schwarber, but there’s one thing that’s clear. He needs to be in the lineup everyday. His presence makes the Cubs’ offense 10x better.
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