The Rockies need offensive upgrades for the 2022 season after having one of their less notable seasons in 2021. The team struggled with getting on-base, driving in runs, and utilizing the long ball, all of which was magnified while away from Coors Field. They need help, especially in the outfield, and one option available to Bill Schmidt is Kyle Schwarber. However, the question remains, does he make sense for Colorado?
In short, yes, yes he does.
In a season split between the Washington Nationals and Boston Red Sox, Schwarber had one of the best seasons of his career. In 113 games in 2021, Schwarber had a career-high .266 AVG and 148 OPS+ in addition to 32 home runs. He also posted a career-high 3.2 bWAR with the Nationals and Red Sox and he may have been able to accumulate more stats if he hadn’t been injured for a time.
What made Schwarber so effective in 2021 was the fact that he increased his over plate discipline. During last season, he posted a career-low 23.3% swing rate at pitches outside the strike zone while posting a career-high 67.6% swing rate at pitches inside the strike zone. Schwarber has always been good at making contact, but his plate vision in 2021 has shown evidence of being a more selective hitter. He managed to lower his strikeout rate in 2021 while increasing his walk rate for a nice 0.50 BB/K ratio.
That selectivity has allowed Schwarber to swing at better pitches and hit the ball harder more often. In 2021 alone, Schwarber was registering a hard hit ball 52.2% of the time with an average exit velocity of 92.3 mph. His bat-to-ball skills were best showcased by the 48 barrels he recorded while averaging a launch angle of 15.4 degrees.
FanGraphs projections show Schwarber regressing slightly in 2022, but he is still bound to provide roughly the same product in the information above, but how would it play at Coors Field? It’s tougher to assume exactly how he would do during a full season, but we do have a small sample size in Schwarber’s career at Coors Field.
In eight games in Colorado, the slugger has slashed .267/.343/.600 with eight hits, including three home runs and 11 RBI. The best we could hope for in 2022 is something reminiscent of C.J. Cron’s production at Coors Field last season. In 69 games at home, Cron slashed .326/.412/.661 with 19 home runs and 68 RBI, while drawing 28 walks and striking out just 50 times. If Schwarber carried over his 2021 performance, it would provide a nice offensive punch at Coors Field.
It’s probably best to address the elephant in the room, and that’s the fact that Schwarber would have to play defense (pending a National League designate hitter implementation) and play on the road.
Schwarber has primarily been a left fielder in his career, with some stints at catcher and first base, but the outfield remains his go-to position. Schwarber will never dazzle you in left field, as he has a career -13 DRS with a .981 fielding percentage. Sure, he’s competent enough to handle the position, but with an aged Charlie Blackmon handling right field, you’d need an incredible center fielder to pick up the slack in the corners. However, Schwarber’s bat outweighs the defensive lackings and he should be able to do what you need him to do out there, plus he gives you some defensive versatility, including behind the plate.
Obviously, everyone struggles on the road, but the Rockies face further challenges with the effects of Coors Field after they leave. Schwarber has a career .221 AVG on the road but has managed 73 home runs and 175 RBI in 329 games. He managed a .779 OPS on the road in 2021 with 11 homers, but overall he again reflected what we saw from Cron on the road last season, but there is still room for improvement.
Overall, Schwarber could prove to be 2022’s version of C.J. Cron for the Rockies. He rebounded from a rough 2020 season and became an All-Star in 2021. His power is something the Rockies desperately need and he could be slotted anywhere in the lineup and produce, including the leadoff spot. If the DH is implemented for the 2022 season, Schwarber should be seriously considered to suit up in purple, and he won’t cost you an arm and a leg like some of the other power hitters on the market will.
★ ★ ★
The Rockies have made a move in the international market by signing 18-year old shortstop Dyan Jorge to a contract worth $2.8 million. The Rockies were previously believed to sign Jorge in the past, but Jorge held off to improve his stock and skills. He’s been known as a solid defender with potential for his bat development, but he will have plenty of time to develop in the minors as the Rockies continue to search for their big league shortstop for the near future.
The Rockies will be headed to Vegas in March to face the Diamondbacks for a pair of Spring Training games at the Triple-A home of the Oakland Athletics affiliate. This will be the fourth time the Rockies have traveled to Vegas during Spring Training. However, with the MLB Lockout still in effect, it remains to be seen if or when these games will be played.
★ ★ ★
Please keep in mind our Purple Row Community Guidelines when you’re commenting. Thanks!