Cubs: Kyle Schwarber’s perplexing fantasy value in 2018

Kyle Schwarber is having an interesting season for the Cubs. With both the good and bad from him this year on full display, what should fantasy owners expect in 2018?

The Cubs secured the NL Central crown this week, and have their eyes set on defending their title. Heading into the season, Kyle Schwarber was looked to be a major contributor. Unfortunately, he never lived up to those expectations but came alive to end the season.

So what gives?

The fears with Schwarber were that his strikeout tendencies would eventually sink his value. Those concerns rang true, as he amassed 78 K over 68 games before being sent down in July.

He was downright terrible over the first three months of the season. He did not post higher than a .204 AVG in any month and only managed to amass 12 HR/28 RBI over that span.

No fantasy owners thought he would be an AVG producer, but without the power production and an AVG that stayed on the interstate, he was unstartable.

The Cubs knew that something had to give, so the decision was made to demote Schwarber to the minors in late June. He predictably mashed at AAA, and was back with the club in early-July.

For how lost Schwarber looked in the first half, he finally showed up for the Cubs once recalled.  Over the final three months of the season, he posted no lower than a .250 AVG and amassed 17 HR/27 RBI.

Digging deeper into his batted ball data, his K rate actually rose over the second half, but he offset it by making a ton more solid contact.

In the first half of the season, he posted 14% LD, 40% GB, 46% FB, 37% Med and 21% Hard contact rates.

After he returned on Jul. 6th, he improved his rates to 18% LD, 35% GB, 47% FB, and 45% Hard contact.

He continued to spray the ball nearly identical to the first half, but the consistent and hard contact allowed him to drive the ball at the rate that owners sought after.

While it would be easy to just chalk up Schwarber’s season to a slow start, there are still some major red flags. One of the biggest fantasy-wise is that Schwarber will lose his C eligibility next season. Now entering the deeper OF position, his value slides considerably.

The strikeouts are not going anywhere, his swing is still too long and as it holes. His splits are ugly as well. He still can not pick it up and hit versus LHP, .173/3 HR/8 RBI/.655 OPS. Against RHP, .217/26 HR/47 RBI/.801 OPS.

Fantasy owners will have to make a tough decision. Do they believe in some of Schwarbers’s adjustments and his second-half performance? Or will Schwarber’s weekly AVG strain and slumps just be too much to handle?

I believe more in the latter. If we take away the fact that he loses C eligibility and that he is not going to win a gold glove anytime soon, the power potential is special. It should not be lost on anyone either, that Shwarber was not only was coming off an ACL injury this season, but he still has played in less than 200 games at the major league level.

The power is simply too much to pass up. The Cubs made him untouchable in trade talks for a reason, and fantasy owners would be remiss not to gamble on one of the few 40+ HR threats in the game. He is already making approach changes, similar to what Anthony Rizzo had to do, so the hope is there.