As we noted in our postseason guideline, Kyle Schwarber and Anthony Rizzo were on the same diamond Tuesday night but for the first time in their postseason careers as opponents.
For the first time since 2014, the Cubs lost more than 90 games this season, leaving many Cubs fans sitting on their couches cheering for old friends this October.
It felt like 2015 when Schwarber launched one into the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh because he sent one into the seats at Fenway Park off the same pitcher, Gerrit Cole.
Schwarber’s Breakout Season
Schwarber had a career season between Washington and Boston, finishing the 2021 campaign with a career-high 145 wRC+. His .266/.374/.554 slash line consisted of all career highs and his 3.1 WAR (per Fangraphs) was his highest since 2018.
Something clicked this season for Schwarber, the guy the Cubs decided to opt against tendering a contract to before the season. He later signed a one-year, $10 million deal with the Nationals. The Cubs instead signed Joc Pederson to a one-year, $7 million deal and eventually traded him before the deadline.
Pederson was productive for the Cubs, but considering the history Schwarber has on the North Side, the move was shocking and his production elsewhere had to make the front office question all season if that transaction was the right move for the future.
The Cubs Next Hitting Coach?
The Cubs moved on from hitting coach Anthony Iapoce on Tuesday. The organization’s recent history of failed hitting coaches, beginning with Chili Davis in 2018, now continues and one has to assume the change in Schwarber’s swing and batting stance this season was because of a new face.
“So it was great, and he came with a lot of good things for me, and the best thing is the hitting stance, everybody wants to kind of think it’s a new thing. It’s really not. You kind of look back in my past where even in college [at Indiana] and early years of Minor League baseball — I was a squatty guy. It’s kind of getting back to who I was and going back to the basics there.
Now I’m just giving myself a better chance to stay behind the baseball, and doing that. Working with Kevin … it’s been fantastic.”
The Cubs have already signified a new offensive approach in their lineup, complementing it with a slew of contact bats, Nick Madrigal, Nico Hoerner, and Frank Schwindel just to name a few. Now it needs some pop and experience to add a little juice. Schwarber could be just that.
Kyle Schwarber is More Than a DH
Schwarber’s defense was always heard from his biggest critics in Chicago, but with a new collective bargaining agreement coming after the postseasons ends, the National League could very likely have a designated hitter in 2022.
A universal designed hitter is one of many topics that has been discussed all across the league and one that seems to be on its way in 2022.
“I think it would be a non-radical change, but I’m not going to speculate on whether we’re going to propose it or get it.”
– Rob Manfred via Chicago Sun-Times on rule changes for 2022 and beyond
Nonetheless, the Cubs should at least be on Kyle Schwarber’s radar whether the NL has a DH or not. He will be one of the few popular outfield targets on the market and we saw Schwarber become an average defensive outfielder over the course of his tenure in Chicago. He’s also played some first base in Boston.
To me, it seems like a reunion in Chicago would send the Cubs into a faster rebuild than what many think.