<
>
Insider

All of the Kyle Schwarber hype comes with a catch

Despite his missing almost all of the 2016 regular season with a knee injury, the Cubs might need Kyle Schwarber to do some catching in 2017. Rick Scuteri/USA TODAY Sports

One of the most intriguing players in baseball this year is the Indiana University guy with the Ruthian countenance: Chicago Cubs folk hero Kyle Schwarber.

Where will he play?

Where will he hit?

Can he make it through a season?

How much better does he make baseball's best team?

For all the attention Schwarber has drawn in his young career, his actual track record is both short and, in a couple of areas, more than a little spotty. We're hypnotized by thoughts of what Schwarber might do, as opposed to what he has already done -- not that those dreams of big numbers to come are far-fetched.

Schwarber's 2017 season was one of the most unusual in all of baseball's annals. When he doubled off of Corey Kluber in Game 1 of the World Series, he became the first position player to have a hit in the Fall Classic after going without one in the regular season. His return before the showdown with Cleveland stole the spotlight from a team that had been playing in the bright glare of media attention for months. And it wasn't just a novelty act. Schwarber had seven hits and posted a .500 on-base percentage, helping the Cubs snap their epic championship drought.

Now we've returned to reality. Schwarber is back for what everyone hopes is a full season, and the Cubs again have more starting-quality position players than lineup spots. Schwarber's return potentially gives the Cubs the best trio of hitters in any lineup in the majors. Using the projections for weighted on-base percentage (WOBA) from Fangraphs, here is how each team's three best projected hitters stack up as a group:

Vicious.