It's still not known when the 2020 Major League Baseball season will start or even if there will be one as the owners and players haggle over safety issues and a split of a multi-billion-dollar pie in a coronavirus pandemic. However, it does seem likely the 82-game regular season will begin July 4 barring any setbacks. One fact is known: There will be a universal designated hitter in place. That could lead a to huge season for Chicago Cubs slugger Kyle Schwarber.
Some guys hit better when they are also playing in the field because they keep their heads in the game. On the flip side, some guys are simply professional hitters only and playing defense is a detriment to their bat.
While Schwarber has made some strides as a defender in left field, he's still well below average as evidenced by his defensive wins above replacement number of minus-0.8 last year. Schwarber's career batting numbers, albeit limited, seem to show he would thrive as a designated hitter as compared to also playing in the field.
In 2019, Schwarber set career highs with 38 home runs, 92 RBIs, a .250 average, .490 slugging percentage and .829 OPS. His overall WAR was 2.3. Schwarber had 70 extra-base hits, just the sixth Cubs left-handed hitter to reach that total in a season.
His 38 homers were the most by a Cubs lefty since Hall of Famer Billy Williams hit a franchise-record 42 in 1970. Schwarber was also red hot after the All-Star break with 20 dingers, most in the National League by a lefty.
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When Schwarber played left field in 2019, he hit .250 with a .340 on-base percentage, .533 slugging and .873 OPS. He only had nine at-bats as a DH in interleague action but was 4-for-9 with two homers and three RBIs, an average of .444, OBP of .500, slugging of 1.111 and OPS of 1.611.
In his career, the 27-year-old has hit .232 with a .338 OBP, .482 slugging and .820 OPS while playing left field. As a designated hitter (98 at-bats), Schwarber hits .299 with an OBP of .367, slugging of .678 and OPS of 1.046.
Before the pandemic shut down MLB, Schwarber was a +6000 longer shot on the moneyline odds at William Hill to lead the majors in home runs. He might be worth a wager at that value price when baseball props are re-posted. The Cubs are currently +2000 to win the World Series.
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