I’m Not Gonna Say Kyle Schwarber Has Been Awesome in August, But Good Luck Getting the Numbers to Shut Up
Because I want this post to be fun, I’m going to ask you to set aside any notion of small sample size caveats for the next few minutes. I’m aware of the inherent danger of judging a player on just a few games, but in the immortal words of Jay Cutler, I “dooon’t caaaaare.”
You wouldn’t either if you watched Kyle Schwarber repeatedly club home runs like Evan Gattis with an actual plate approach and a hit tool that has more settings than just “Hulk Smash.” No, this isn’t El Oso Blanco, but I suppose we could start calling him El Oso Guerra. That’s War Bear for you gringos (and yeah, I Googled “war bear in spanish”).
WAR, indeed. Schwarber has compiled .9 WAR on the month, good for 6th in the NL and 4th…on his own team. Yeah, the Cubs have 3 other guys who’ve contributed at least that much more than a replacement player in August. But I’m not here to talk about Kris Bryant, Dexter Fowler, and Anthony Rizzo, at least not now.
I’m here to talk about the rookie whose 7 home runs and 19 RBI are tied for the league lead and whose 22 runs scored lead A.J. Pollock and the rest of the Senior Circuit by 6. But you wanna see things get really sick? Check out the dude’s ISO.
Before we do that, though, a quick primer. ISO is a measurement of raw power and is meant to tell you how often a guy hits for extra bases. A couple simple ways to calculate it would be to subtract batting average from slugging or to divide extra bases by at-bats. By any measure, Schwarber’s raw power is raw business.
Fangraphs categorizes an ISO of .200 as Great and .250 as Excellent. Schwarber’s is .404. A hip-hop aficionado might tell you you’ve got to double that to really bang, but I can assure you this kid is doing just fine.
You may have already discerned from the brief explanation above that War Bear’s slugging is pretty good, in which case you’d be right. Well, if .684 is good. Certainly better than the Rizzo character behind him at .633.
But why stop there when we’ve got more stats to exploit. wOBA is a metric that seeks to measure the different aspects of hitting by weighting each relative to its actual run value. In other words, a double is more valuable than a single and so on. Schwarber’s .451 is again tops in the NL, just ahead of that Rizzo (.433) guy . You might not be surprised to see Kris Bryant (.435) in 4th with Dexter Fowler (.418) 7th.
And what would any discussion of catch-all offensive metrics be without a section on wRC+, a stat I’ve explained before and thus will relay without context now (sorry, Buster). Schwarber’s 192 is second to none, though there are some usual suspects standing in his wake. Rizzo (185) and Bryant (181) round out the top 3, while Dexter Fowler is once again in 7th. Slacker.
In looking at Off, Fangraphs’ combination of a player’s value both at the plate and on the bases, we are finally able to discern a weakness in Schwarber’s game. Wait, no, he’s still atop the leaderboard there too with a 7.9. And, wouldn’t you know it, there’s Bryant (7.7) in 2nd with Rizzo (7.4) straggling back in 4th and Fowler (6.1) in 7th. Again. That kid is back on the escalator!
So what does this all mean? Well, not much other than Kyle Schwarber is freaking good. There’s a time and a place for being cautious with the numbers, but my watch is broken and my place doesn’t always need to grounded. This is just some really fun stuff.
Winning is fun and big, crazy numbers are fun and young dudes who win while putting up big, crazy numbers are really fun. Kyle Schwarber might not finish the month as the NL’s leader in pretty much every offensive category you can think of, but he’s already done more damage in three weeks than most guys do in, well, a lot longer than three weeks.
So I raise my Sam Adams Octoberfest to you, Kyle Schwarber, and I’ll let your stats be my toast.