After being selected fourth overall in the 2014 MLB Draft by the Chicago Cubs, Kyle Schwarber’s career expectations were high, so it’s fair to wonder how he ended up with the Washington Nationals and, more importantly, how good can he be there.
Schwarber, who has played every game of his professional career with the Cubs, has gone on to have a successful major league career, most notably from an offensive standpoint.
His career batting average is rather low at .230, but with a very good batting eye and more than enough power, he has managed a .336 On Base Percentage (OBP) and a .480 slugging percentage.
However, it is quite clear that 2020 wasn’t his finest season. He slashed .188/.308/.393, and while he was able to hit 11 home runs with the Cubs, he didn’t provide his usual offensive output.
Seeing the situation, the Cubs shockingly decided to non-tender Schwarber and avoid paying him his final arbitration raise.
Kyle Schwarber officially non-tendered by Cubs https://t.co/jtcaVa3a8a
— NBC Sports EDGE Baseball (@NBCSEdgeBB) December 3, 2020
The Nationals, however, were there to offer him a home and a role.
According to Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post, the Nationals have agreed to a one-year contract with Kyle Schwarber on January 9.
Schwarber will earn $7 million this year, and the deal also includes an $11 million mutual option for 2022 with a $3 million buyout.
Can Schwarber Rebound To His Pre-2020 Levels With His New Team?
With the absence of the designated hitter for the 2021 campaign, the Nats will play Schwarber in left field.
He is no defensive ace, but there are worse fielders than Schwarber at his position.
For the Nationals, the main factor that will determine whether or not the signing was worthwhile will be his offense.
Despite the subpar .188/.308/.393 line, there are several signs that point out at a rebound season for the hulky slugger.
First, a 60-game season is not enough to draw too many conclusions, as hitters go through slumps and peaks in a regular, 162-game season that weren’t reflected in last season’s numbers.
Schwarber, in particular, can be streaky.
Second, the aforementioned slash line hides a 91 weighted Runs Created Plus, or wRC+.
The Value Of WRC+ To Analyze Schwarber’s Case
In this case, wRC+ helps us encompass offensive productions and contributions accounting for park factors and different times.
In wRC+, any number lower than 100 means below-average production, and any figure over 100 means above-average outputs.
Even in the middle of a lousy season, Schwarber’s batting eye (he had a healthy 13.4 BB%) and power had him with a 91 wRC+, or only nine percent below average.
I believe, with a normal season and a larger sample, Schwarber can return to being the 113 wRC+ player he is.
Judging by his 113 wRC+, we can conclude that, using the stat, Schwarber has produced 13% more than the average batter.
Schwarber is only two years removed from his best season, which came in 2019.
That year, he slashed .250/.339/.531 with 38 home runs, 82 runs scored, 92 RBI, and a 121 wRC+.
Schwarber is, offensively, a player that every manager wants to have, since he can take walks and drive in runs with his considerable power.
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) February 27, 2021
If the Nationals give him a regular, everyday spot in the lineup, 30 home runs and a 110+ wRC+ attainable for Schwarber.