Indiana Baseball: What to make of Chicago Cubs Kyle Schwarber and his early struggles?

May 9, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Chicago Cubs left fielder Kyle Schwarber (12) before the game against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
May 9, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Chicago Cubs left fielder Kyle Schwarber (12) before the game against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

Former Indiana slugger Kyle Schwarber is well underway in his first full season with the Chicago Cubs. Some fans though are beginning to have their concerns.

The Chicago Cubs enter the last weekend of May two games above .500 and one and a half games out of first place. The World Series Champions came into this season with even higher expectations than last. Weird to think about, but mostly true. Fans have been fed after their 108-year starvation for a World Series Championship but like any rich fan base, they want more.

Part of the anticipation for high expectations was seeing some of the young players develop. One of those young stars includes former Indiana catcher Kyle Schwarber. As many baseball fans recall his injury in the first week of the regular season. He made his seemingly heroic comeback in the World Series and it paid dividends for the Cubs.

Fans are anxious this season to see how Kyle Schwarber would perform in his first full season as a Cub. After just two months of baseball and less than 200 plate appearances, some are beginning to worry about his production. Schwarber has a slash line of .186/.307/.656 through 40 games this season. He is current batting average for the month of May is .153. For those fans who might see those numbers and begin to speculate, I urge them to be patient.

Kyle Schwarber has been tasked with plenty this season. Cubs Manager Joe Maddon decided at the start of the season that Schwarber would fill the role as the team’s leadoff hitter. To some, it may seem unorthodox but to others, it might look like another Maddon innovation. Kyle Schwarber’s .305 on-base percentage is among the bottom five for leadoff hitters in the league.

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Maddon in recent days has dropped Schwarber down to the No. 2 spot in the order, which seems to have helped a bit. Some people are not so patient with the way Schwarber has been performing at the plate though. What I make of it might just be a simple change that Maddon has already made. Maybe the leadoff position really is messing with Schwarber’s approach at the plate?

Think about it, leadoff hitters traditionally are the guys trying as hard as they can to get on base. This is something that Dexter Fowler did for the Chicago Cubs during their run last season. Your approach changes when you are leading off an inning and the situations you hit in are different than those who hit in the No. 3-5 spots.

Many should also be cautionary about how they speak about Schwarber. He is returning to his first full season in the big leagues and coming off a regular season ending knee injury. Schwarber is still a young, developing player in Major League Baseball and that might come with some growing pains. Schwarber is beginning to find his stroke with these home runs over the course of the last 10 days.

He even managed to break the rather large Budweiser sign in right field during batting practice.

While having to adjust to leading off for the defending World Series champs, Schwarber is still adjusting to life in the outfield. Let us all not forget that Kyle Schwarber spent the majority of his time in college behind the plate. The Cubs realized quickly that he was not going to be the future of the Cubs catching core. They needed to find a way to get his bat into the lineup is why we find him in left field.

This season has been filled with plenty of expectations for Schwarber to continue his onslaught of the World Series. This might have been a bit of an unfair expectation for Schwarber because of the small sample size. Over the course of 162 games, every player is going to go through their struggles at the plate and in the field.

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For Cubs fans, they should continue to be patient while Schwarber works through some of these growing pains. When it’s all set and done, Cubs fans should not anticipate Schwarber hitting sub-.200 it might just take some time.