Chicago Cubs: Is Kyle Schwarber poised to be a leader?

From his mammoth home run for the Chicago Cubs in the 2015 NLDS to his amazing comeback story in 2016–Kyle Schwarber had us captivated. Does the fiery side we saw in the playoffs bode well for him to be a leader?

When the Chicago CubsKyle Schwarber returned to the lineup in the World Series, that was a miracle in itself. He hadn’t seen a pitch in the majors since April, and all but a handful of live pitching in the Arizona Fall League.  Yet that first hit–a double off the wall in Game 1–showed that fire and determination that got him back to the Cubs for the World Series. And while it was only a “part-time” gig as he wasn’t cleared to play the field–his leadership for the Cubs started to show.

Ben Zobrist took home the hardware with the MVP, but Schwarber was a close second. He didn’t qualify because of having to sit out much of the series in Chicago. But he did his part at the plate. He hit .412 (7-for-17), drove in two runs and walked three times. Very similar to the number that Zobrist posted (.357, 2 2B, 3B, 2 RBIs, 3 BB). And while Zobrist had the go-ahead and eventual game-winning hit (Miguel Montero‘s was big, but Zobrist’s still was the go-ahead), it was Schwarber’s leadoff hit that started the Cubs off.

Taking advantage

Last season, Schwarber got an extended audition. After being the DH for a short road trip, it was Montero’s injury that changed it all. A thumb injury that kept him out for nearly six weeks last season opened the door. Even then, there’s no bigger supporter of Schwarber than Montero.

“I believe he’s going to be the leader of this clubhouse and this team because of his personality, his demeanor, and just the way he handles himself in the clubhouse,” catcher Miguel Montero said. “With all due respect to Rizzo and KB (Bryant) and whoever is on the team, (Schwarber) is going to be the leader of this club. Simple as that.”

Questions still remain on where Schwarber will play. When Spring Training begins, he’ll be clear to play the field. He should still see time behind the plate, but how much is to be determined. But if you don’t see him as a catcher, how about as a leadoff man? It’s a topic that has been well talked about this offseason. And it seems that Joe Maddon is favoring Schwarber in that spot. At least against righties.

When the 2017 season begins, Schwarber could very well be the leader. It could be of the Cubs. Or it could be at the top of the lineup. But there’s a good chance he’ll be the leader of this team in some capacity. Maybe it will be Schwarber. It could very well be Anthony Rizzo or Kris Bryant. Jason Heyward had a key moment for the Cubs during the rain delay. Whoever it may be, the Cubs are in good shape for the future.

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