Schwarber Versus Recent Leadoff Men
Its pretty clear that barring an injury, Schwarber will be the leadoff man to start the season. He certainly is not what you would traditionally think of as a leadoff hitter. He is a slugger who smashes extra base hits, is not a burner on the bases (although he is a better base runner than you might think) and strikes out a fair amount. Schwarber’s skill set is very different from almost every leadoff hitter the Cubs have thrown out there in recent memory. That being said the results may actually compare favorably to recent Cubs leadoff hitters. Below is a list of the Cubs leadoff hitters from opening day the past 10 seasons, lets see how Schwarber’s projected stats compare to them.
2017 Steamer Projections for Kyle Schwarber- .264/.353/.490 27 HR 6 SB
Past 10 Opening Day Leadoff Hitters-
2007- Alfonso Soriano- .299/.337/.560 33 HR 19 SB
2008- Ryan Theriot- .307/.387/.359 1 HR 22 SB
2009- Alfonso Soriano- .241/.303/.423 20 HR 9 SB
2010- Ryant Theriot- .270/.321/.312 2 HR 20 SB
2011- Kosuke Fukudome- .262/.342/.370 8 HR 4 SB
2012- David Dejesus- .263/.350/.403 9 HR 7 SB
2013- David Dejesus- .251/.327/.402 8 HR 5 SB
2014- Emilio Bonifacio- .259/.305/.345 3 HR 26 SB
2015- Dexter Fowler- .250/.346/.411 17 HR 20 SB
2016- Dexter Fowler- .276/.393/.447 13 HR 13 SB
So when you compare Schwarber’s projections to those numbers you see that the only seasons that his OBP would be lower than is 16′ Fowler and 08′ Theriot which were both on playoff teams. Even his batting average is not out of line with the rest of the players on the list. He will likely get on base at an above average clip and will be protected by Bryant and Rizzo. The other thing to consider is that Maddon has expressed interest in hitting the pitcher 8th and the rotation of Almora and Jon Jay in the 9 hole. So there will be plenty of opportunities where Schwarber will essentially be hitting second which is where he hit in the World Series. Still the biggest benefit of Schwarber hitting leadoff is that he is great at working the count and seeing lots of pitchers. That will prove invaluable to the guys hitting behind him as they will know what to expect from the pitcher. It will certainly be a change from Dexter Fowler who was the definition of a leadoff hitter but since the Cubs do not have that type of player, Maddon is taking the correct course and trying to creatively address the situation. This is likely to be one of the best Cubs offenses in recent memory and I can’t wait to watch them play. What do you think? Post your thoughts below.