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Player Profile: Kyle Schwarber

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How should we rank the catcher who brings the boom stick?

Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Schwarber carries a lot of excitement, and rightfully so, I mean look at what he did.

He exploded out of the gates crushing, and when you look at all catchers with over 250 plate appearances he led them all in isolated power, slugging percentage, and wRC+.  He was a monster, and going into 2016 drafts he's going to be a commodity that is highly sought after.  Presently Schwarber's average draft position in NFBC leagues is 33.  It seems crazy that a player who isn't even catcher eligible in those leagues would be fetching so much, but he's managed that already, and I fear that his price will go even higher in redraft leagues.

Let's take a look at what Schwarber brings to the table, and decide if he's worth the price tag he comes with.

Runs

Schwarber is joining the power packed Cubs offense for a full season.  As of this writing it looks like he'll be in the center of it, batting 5th, which is obviously not a prime run scoring spot.  He should still have Addison Russell and Jorge Soler batting behind him.  If he can replicate his .355 on base percentage from last year, that should give him ample opportunities to score.  With steamer being the only projection system out right now, they have Schwarber as the highest projected run scoring catcher.

Homeruns

This is his number one skill, and seeing that Schwarber can be one of those desirable catchers who doesn't catch, he should have more chances to step up and flaunt this tool, while also remaining more fresh than the average catcher would down the stretch.  He's already shown that he can hit balls out from line to line,

and the power is capable of putting balls where no other catcher can put them.

so when you invest in Schwarber, its primarily because you are convinced he will have power in spades in 2016.

RBI

Again, Schwarber is projected to be the catcher with the most RBI in 2016, as he should.  Being the best power hitter out of all his fellow backstops, while also being in a stacked lineup, it's fair to expect him to be the best in this category, which could be in the 90-95 range.

Stolen Bases

Schwarber plods slowly around the bases.  He's projected 5 steals which is likely him being on the back end of 5 double steals.  He's listed at 235lbs which is likely lighter than he presently is.  I think 5 steals is generous, but a total that low is hard to project accurately, just know he isn't a contributor.

Average

Here is where the issues arise.  Despite Schwarber's early dominance, he was not a good average hitter last season.  He didn't hit many line drives (17.3%, league average 20.9%), he was a dead pull hitter (46.8%), he was a well below average contact hitter (67.8%, league average 78.8%), and lefties held him to a .143/.213/.268 line.  If his hard hit rate wasn't so high (39.7, league average 28.6%) I'd fear him really slipping below the .246 he hit in 2015.  Frankly his batted ball profile isn't good, and unless he changes a lot, his average won't be strong next season.

Conclusion

There is no questioning that Schwarber could contend for the top spot at Catcher, but a large portion of his value is tied to positional scarcity.  Personally, I wouldn't want to give up an early third round pick on a guy who is projected to be in the 70s for runs and RBI with 25 homers.  By comparison the bats going after him are Joey Votto, Charlie Blackmon, J.D. Martinez, and Yoenis Cespedes.  If you wanted a pitcher you would be acquiring ace arms Matt Harvey, David Price, Gerrit Cole, or Jacob deGrom.  Personally, making Schwarber the 33rd overall pick is investing in his ceiling.  I doubt he makes it that high on the player rater, and a pick at this price would put a lot of pressure on the rest of your draft to overcome the scarcity pick you made early.  If you can get him closer to the 50th pick, you are getting him at a value, something I try to do at with every pick in the draft, but that is extremely unlikely.

While Schwarber is very talented, positional scarcity and the wow factor he provided are going to drive his price out of what should be paid for him. He's great, but also greatly overpriced.  So when at the draft table this year, obviously Schwarber needs to be on your radar, but acknowledge that there are people in your league who are going to be thinking of this in the second round.