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Examining the case for Kyle Schwarber on the Rockies

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Colorado Rockies news and analysis for December 27, 2020

Linked in yesterday’s Rockpile was an article from the Cubs’ sister-site from our friends at Roxpile postulating that the Rockies ought to pursue Kyle Schwarber. As one might expect, the article was from a Cubs-centered perspective with a little sprinkling of #Coors. Justin brought up in the Rockpile that the Rockies might not be up for signing Schwarber considering they just non-tendered David Dahl, who’s projected arbitration salary of $7-9 million is much higher than the $3 million Dahl received from the Texas Rangers. Even though Schwarber will probably get less than $8 million as free agent, it doesn’t seem to be in the Rockies’ overall interest to sign the Schwarbz.

But it's worth investigating further. Considering Schwarber's contract would cost more then Dahl's arbitration salary, would the Rockies be getting more production from someone like Schwarber? How do the two compare over their careers and what do the projection systems say about potential future performance? Should the Rockies be willing to shell out the dough for Scharber? Or would bargain hunting with the likes of Kevin Pillar serve them better? Let's dig into the numbers.

But first, let's go ahead and imagine this at #Coors:

Okay, now let's look at the numbers. Keep in mind that league average strikeout rate is around 23%, walk rate around 8.5%, and barrel rate about 7.5%. Here’s an explainer for Outs Above Average and barrels.

David Dahl Stats

Range G PA HR RBI BA/OBP/SLG K% BB% Barrel% OAA fWAR
Range G PA HR RBI BA/OBP/SLG K% BB% Barrel% OAA fWAR
Career 264 1020 38 142 .286/.334/.494 26.0% 6.5% 7.3% -2 2.9
2020 24 99 0 9 .183/.222/.247 28.3% 4.0% 3.0% -1 -0.8
162-game AVG 162 626 23 87 .286/.334/.494 26.0% 6.5% 7.3% -- 1.8
Baseball-Reference, FanGraphs, Statcast

A few things to take note of before we look at Schwarber’s stats. First, Dahl’s 162-game average is a pretty impressive player. Not one who lights the world on fire, but a productive member of the lineup overall. The problem is that Dahl has never played more than 62% of a season, and he missed the entirety of the 2017 season. His 2020 season was similarly marred by injuries, and when he was on the field he produced a wRC+ of 10 (not a typo), even though he had a career 110 wRC+ going into 2020. Injuries and a sour 2020 made the Rockies say it was better for both parties to non-tender the 2012 10th overall pick. Time will tell who gets the better end of the parting.

Could Kyle Schwarber be an adequate replacement?

Kyle Schwarber Stats

Range G PA HR RBI BA/OBP/SLG K% BB% Barrel% OAA fWAR
Range G PA HR RBI BA/OBP/SLG K% BB% Barrel% OAA fWAR
Career 551 2108 121 279 .230/.336/.480 28.0% 13.0% 13.1% -29 9.5
2020 59 224 11 24 .188/.308/.393 29.5% 13.4% 11.2% -4 0.4
162-game AVG 162 620 36 82 .230/.336/.480 28.0% 13.0% 13.1% -- 2.8
Baseball-Reference, FanGraphs, Statcast

Like Dahl, Schwarber is a former first-round pick (fourth overall in 2014) who was non-tendered by the club that drafted him this month. He missed the 2016 regular season due to injury but famously came back for the World Series and went 7-for-17 en route to a Cubs victory. Since then he’s been able to stay healthy and in the lineup, but his defense has been pretty poor. His 2020 was similarly disappointing, though without the injury issues that Dahl had; he produced a 90 wRC+.

Both players had very disappointing 2020 seasons, even after producing solid results before then. How does that affect their outlooks for 2021?

2021 ZiPS Projections

Range G PA HR RBI BA/OBP/SLG K% BB% fWAR
Range G PA HR RBI BA/OBP/SLG K% BB% fWAR
David Dahl 102 412 19 62 .278/.334/.516 27.4% 7.5% 0.7
Kyle Schwarber 137 527 31 80 .241/.343/.509 27.9% 12.9% 2.0
FanGraphs

Here we see the two players side-by-side, warts and all. While Scharber doesn’t hit as well as Dahl, he makes up for it by getting on base and mashing when he does hit. But what really sets them apart is health. All things being equal, Dahl is a better fit for the Rockies because he can play at least a competent outfield in the wide expanses of Coors Field. But his durability in question, Schwarber figures to be the more productive player. If the National League were getting a DH, this would be a no-brainer for the Rockies, in my opinion (think about how much higher that projected WAR would be without the negatives from his fielding). But if Schwarber struggles to play left field in the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field, I shudder to think what he would do in Coors.

Then again....he could also do this in Coors.

What say you, Rowbots? Explain your answer in the comments.

Poll

Should the Rockies sign Schwarber?

This poll is closed

  • 24%
    Yes
    (56 votes)
  • 42%
    No
    (99 votes)
  • 33%
    Yes, but only if the NL gets the DH
    (78 votes)
233 votes total Vote Now

★ ★ ★

Who’s better for Dodgers, Arenado or DJ? | MLB.com

This might be my least favorite baseball article written in 2020.

★ ★ ★

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