One of the more intriguing Chicago Cubs stories of the offseason has been the workout regimen of left fielder Kyle Schwarber. The much-maligned 24-year-old has lost nearly 20 pounds since the Cubs concluded their season with a loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS, and appears determined to become a more well-rounded athlete.
ESPN Cubs beat writer Jesse Rogers got a glimpse of Schwarber’s routine, which begins in the gym and ends with baseball work, including batting practice. Schwarber has apparently shown a commitment to becoming a more agile player in the field with sharper and more timely reflexes, while still retaining the raw strength that makes him one of the more dangerous sluggers in baseball.
This past summer was a down year for the former Indiana Hoosier in nearly all aspects. Schwarber was pinned by management to be the new leadoff hitter for the Cubs, but a sheer lack of discipline and down power numbers led to a demotion to the minor leagues in late June. While he hit .253 in the second half (compared to a paltry .178 in the first half), he never found his groove as the high on-base guy the Cubs felt that they could rely on at the beginning of the season. Schwarber posted just a 0.9 offensive WAR, while continued struggles in the outfield led to a -1.4 defensive WAR.
Schwarber has consistently been the subject of trade talks and hypotheticals since the beginning of last season, but Cubs brass has defended him time and again, and Theo Epstein has all but ensured that Schwarber is part of the organization’s future plans. And, given his struggles last season, it is unlikely that the Cubs could pry top talent away from opposing teams in any deal that would center around Schwarber.
In the midst of all this, Schwarber has consistently preached a resolve to improve. His 30.9 percent strikeout rate was one of the biggest hindrances towards his advancement as a player, something that the former catcher is trying to address with an assortment of tee and soft toss drills that focus on hitting the ball to all fields and letting it travel deep in the strike zone.
The tenacity with which Schwarber has approached the footwork and
agility drills is perhaps the more encouraging sign. The Cubs don’t expect Schwarber to be a quality defender in the outfield, and yet his regimen and the work ethic he has shown in just a few short months seem to indicate that Schwarber is aspiring to something greater.
This will certainly be a story to follow throughout the offseason as the Cubs look to bolster their roster with more pitching. If Schwarber can become a more balanced hitter at the dish while also making strides in the outfield, he will once again become a focal point for the organization, one that could be pivotal to the team’s success in the years to come.
The talent has always been there, but now Schwarber’s determination and moxie are on full display. Only time will tell if his offseason efforts will pay dividends on the field, but it has been an explosive start.
If you would like to receive a notification each time a new Chicago Cubs article is published, please fill out our email notification form.