Kyle Schwarber had an up-and-down 2017, starting the season as the leadoff hitter and getting demoted just three months later. But the hard-working slugger successfully adjusted to end the year and carried those adjustments into 2018.
Schwarber, who changed his batting stance to a more upright posture in 2018, barreled up more inside pitches than he had the previous season, as illustrated by the heat maps below. You can see that the 2018 figure has more red on the inner portion of the plate than the 2017 figure. Simply put, he hit inside pitches harder last year, which is exactly the type of improvement we wanted to see.
Even though Schwarber performed better in 2018 with an upright stance, he has been adamant about returning to a crouched stance this season. One of the reasons he may have gotten away from that crouch initially was that it caused too much pre-pitch movement, which would’ve left him susceptible to inside pitching.
But being more upright left Schwarber looking a little less athletic in the box, thereby preventing him from being as aggressive as he’d like to be. Maybe this latest change is a way to blend last year’s improvements with a new/old approach. I don’t know for sure, but I’ll be monitoring how Schwarber hits inside pitches now that he is squatting deeper in his batting stance again.