In the offseason, the Cubs let Kyle Schwarber go. A couple months later, the Cubs sign Joc Pederson. Their numbers are practically identical. If you squint, Pederson’s numbers look a bit better.
When you look at Joc Pederson’s most similar players on baseball-reference, the very first player….
Yup, the first player on Joc Pederson’s most similar batters is Kyle Schwarber. So these guys are pretty much identical.
But nobody is talking about franchise impact and merchandising. In this comparison I’m talking as a Cubs fan who debates if we should have Schwarber or Pederson.
Schwarber was immensely popular with Cubs fans. Why?
He’s the guy who launched the Schwarbomb on top of the Wrigley Field Jumbotron in right field. That home run was in the clinching playoff game against the Cardinals in 2015—the first time EVER that the Cubs clinched a postseason series at Wrigley. (and I was there in person to witness it)
- World Series comeback
Schwarber is the guy who miraculously came back to play in the World Series after being out all season. Anyone remember that? In 2016, we have the Cubs going to the World Series, and every one was PUMPED that Schwarber was going to play. It was as though the almighty slugger has arisen.
- Monster in remembered postseason series
Schwarber’s OPS and AVG in:
• 2015 NLDS against the Cardinals: 1.683 and .500
• 2015 World Series: .971 and .412
Epic numbers in epic postseason series. Granted, he didn’t do great in all the postseason series, but in these series that people remember, man, he racked.
- Fan favorite
Schwarber is the kinda pudgy guy that every jock fans love. Really. Schwarber has a great attitude. He’s just extremely like-able.
- Fun name
Schwarber. It’s just a fun name.
You’d think the Cubs made MINT off Schwarber’s merchandising. They saved a couple million dollars by signing Pederson instead. How much did Schwarber’s merchandising pull in per year? I have absolutely no idea.
Would you take the slightly better Pederson over Schwarber? By the numbers, I suppose so. But there’s something to be said about keeping your fan-favorite players. That’s part of building a franchise.
How do people really remember a sports team? By the stories. Schwarber has the stories. If he played his entire career with the Cubs, you can be guaranteed he would end up being one of the all-time favorite Cubs players. But no, the Cubs tossed him in the trash can for some other guy who is basically the same, but slightly cheaper. Goodbye stories. Goodbye fan favorite.
About Joc Pederson
Just out of curiosity, Pederson faced the Cubs in two NLCS, 2016 and 2017. How did he do? He hit .190 and .200 (OPS of .465 and .600). Yipes! That’s bad.
Although he appeared in THREE World Series against the Astros, Red Sox, and Rays. Over those three World Series, he smashed an OPS of 1.041. Whoa. Daaaaang. WORLD SERIES POWER. Joc Pederson really looks like the Kyle Schwarber of the Dodgers. Similar regular season stats, but then incredible postseason stats, cementing both in the legacy of their respective teams.
At age 28, Joc Pederson has some time to make his mark as a Cub. I’ve heard he’s a good clubhouse guy too. But man, it’s pretty much guaranteed he won’t build the same epic stories that Schwarber did. Besides, Pederson’s deal with the Cubs is only ONE year.
He left the Dodgers after making a solid mark in THREE World Series. Like, total powerhouse World Series efforts. Joc had spent the previous 10 years with the organization after they drafted him in the 11th round out of Palo Alto High School. But he left all that Dodger legacy to sign with the Cubs for one year.
Since he was so willing to leave the Dodgers, I’d imagine he wouldn’t feel much need to stick around with the Cubs after one year. No long-term Cub building here with Pederson. One year and he’ll be gone.
And most importantly, who has the better autograph aesthetics?
Kyle Schwarber’s is somewhat legible. If you had a poster with 20 autographs, you could figure out which is Schwarber’s by his K and S.
Joc Pederson’s is not legible at all.
Winner for legibility: Kyle Schwarber
The “K” in “Kyle” has a little bit of style.
Pederson’s two repeated loops have some decent style. The rhythm of the loops gives the overall autograph a somewhat ok shape.
Winner for style: Joc Pederson (slightly)
Based on the autograph alone, I would have to pick Kyle Schwarber’s somewhat legibility over the somewhat style of Joc Pederson’s.
Overall autograph winner: Kyle Schwarber