(CBS) The question was straight to the point, and Cubs manager Joe Maddon didn’t budge.
Is Kyle Schwarber leading off against the Reds on Tuesday night?
“Of course he is,” Maddon said on the Spiegel and Parkins Show on 670 The Score. “And why wouldn’t he be?”
The reasoning for the last part is because Schwarber is hitting .179 with a .313 on-base percentage and .656 OPS in his first season leading off after Dexter Fowler left the Cubs in free agency this past offseason. His woes have led some to call for him to be dropped in the order, an idea that Maddon feistily pushed back at Tuesday — again.
“Let me ask you this: Did you guys watch the games over the weekend in St. Louis?” Maddon said.
Maddon then went on to directly cite four hard-hit balls Schwarber had in a three-game series against the Cardinals that didn’t go for hits. It’s part of Maddon’s belief that he likes how Schwarber is swinging the bat and hitting the ball, even if the desired result isn’t manifesting itself. The advanced metrics back up Maddon’s belief to a large degree, as Schwarber has a hard-luck .224 batting average on balls in play and strikeout and walk rates that are rather similar to the averages in his young career.
“He looks great, actually,” Maddon said. “That’s what I’m talking about, results versus process. He, to me, looks really good at the plate right now.”