by Ray Kuhn
There is no disputing that what Kyle Schwarber did last fall was remarkable as he was able to return in the World Series. It is very apparent that he can hit, with the “when he makes contact” caveat. We also know Joe Maddon and the Chicago Cubs will continue to utilize platoons this season. With Willson Contreras entrenched behind the plate, and Miguel Montero backing him up, Schwarber will see little, if any, time behind the plate.
With that in mind, where should we be drafting Schwarber? My initial answer, is later than he is currently going.
While he brings a great deal of potential, he also is without a track record (232 AB in 2015 and 4 AB in ’16). That is not enough for me, especially when in most leagues, except Yahoo, Schwarber is no longer eligible at catcher. I’m having a hard time believing there are just 19 outfielders better and that he is worth of his current ADP of 76.77. In one draft he was taken with the 34th overall pick!
Let’s just dismiss that as an outlier, and instead focus on some of the names coming off the board after Schwarber including Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, Khris Davis, Jose Bautista and Adam Jones. Now that is not to say those options don’t come with red flags or questions, but they all have a legitimate, proven track record. They will likely all have a better season than Schwarber as well.
Let’s assume that if Schwarber sees any time behind the plate, and I wouldn’t bank on it, it will be minimal. That leaves left field for his potential AB. It will likely be a crowded position as Maddon works to get Ben Zobrist and Javier Baez into the lineup. Given Schwarber’s struggles against left-handed pitching, that means we could have a platoon situation. He is on the correct side of it, but it is still not an ideal situation for a player being taken early in the sixth round. Also, when the Cubs have a lead late in the game Schwarber will likely be removed for defensive purposes, which could lead to some lost AB.
Schwarber’s power is no joke. In 2015 he had a Power Index of 164 with an expected Power Index of 157, while turning 24% of his fly balls into home runs. The slugger also had a Hard Contact Rate of 117, so hitting the ball with authority for extra bases will not be an issue. What will be a problem is the 68% contact rate he had in 2015. It is a small sample size, 232 AB, and he has had time to make adjustments, but it is also a situation to be aware of.
The ability of Schwarber to drive in runs (unless he is batting leadoff) and go deep is not in question, but he will be a liability in the batting average department (I’m not expecting anything more than .250 with the possibility for a little lower). If he were to get 600 AB his power numbers would more than make up for it, but I wouldn’t expect much more than 450-475 AB. That, along with the lack of batting average, is why I believe he is being over drafted. In the right situation I have no objection to owning Schwarber, just not at his current price.
Source – Baseball HQ
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