Chicago Cubs: Kyle Schwarber
There’s no way to put a positive spin on what Chicago Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber experienced in 2017. The World Series hero was trumpeted by baseball analysts far and wide as a potential MVP candidate and 40-homer threat after recovering from his ugly knee injury. The Cubs even tinkered with the idea of utilizing the slugger as their leadoff man.
Instead, Schwarber struggled mightily in his first full MLB season and even spent time at Triple-A. The lefty ended the year hitting .211/.315/.467 with 30 home runs and 59 RBI. He struck out 150 times in 129 games, but did walk 59 times. Many of the attributes that made Schwarber a dark horse MVP candidate — the raw power and patience at the plate — were on full display, but he became too pull-happy for long stretches.
The second half saw Schwarber rebound to hit .253 with 17 home runs on only 209 plate appearances as he split time with Ian Happ. Schwarber showed up to camp in phenomenal shape and has tried to bring a better approach to hitting this year.
"“Just trying to do too much,” Schwarber said, “because when you’re in that slump, you’re just wanting to get out of it so bad because you want to win, you want to help the team win and sometimes you just put too much pressure on yourself. “You just got to take a step away from that and be able to just take that breath, whatever it is, relax and go back in.”"
The Cubs are loaded up and down their lineup, but things go to another level if Schwarber is able to carry through the adjustments he made in the second half last year. The best is still yet to come for this behemoth.