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BCB After Dark: First things first

The nightclub for night owls, early-risers and Cubs fans abroad asks which first baseman will have the better season in 2022.

Minnesota Twins v Chicago Cubs Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

It’s another evening here at BCB After Dark: your warm spot on a cool night for night owls, early-risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. We’re so glad to have you stop by again tonight. If it’s your first time, welcome. No suit and tie required. Make yourself at home, especially if you are at home. Bring your own beverage. There are several good tables still available,

BCB After Dark is the place for you to talk baseball, music, movies, or anything else you need to get off your chest, as long as it is within the rules of the site. The late-nighters are encouraged to get the party started, but everyone else is invited to join in as you wake up the next morning and into the afternoon.

Last night, we discussed when the Cubs are going to return to the playoffs. A bare majority think it’s going to be a while. Winning the vote with 38 percent was 2024, while another 14 percent thought it would take even longer than that. However, in second place was 2023 with 31 percent and 18 percent think the Cubs will be back playing meaningful baseball in October in 2022.

Baseball is still locked out, although somehow the Astros and Justin Verlander finalized a two-year deal. This deal was widely-reported as done well before the lockout started and both the team and player agreed that it was done, signed and submitted. I guess the holdup was something either with the league or the union, and both sides now agreed that it could go through. I guess it’s good news that MLB and the MLBPA can agree on one thing.

I don’t do a regular film essay on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, but if you want to go back and look at what I wrote about Caged, the original women-in-prison movie, please do so.

I always have time for a jazz track though, so if you skip those, now is the time to do so.

Tonight’s track is a contemporary track from jazz vocalist José James from his new Christmas album, Merry Christmas from José James. This is an original track that James co-wrote himself with his partner Talia Billig. So it’s not a holiday song that you’ve heard a million times already this season.

So enjoy ‘Christmas Day” by José James.

Welcome back to those who skip the jazz.

Tonight’s question would have been insane at this time last year. But I don’t think it’s crazy to ask it today.

As you know, the Cubs said goodbye to their long-time first baseman Anthony Rizzo at the trade deadline this past season after failing to sign him to a long-term extension. That left the first base position to a minor league journeyman named Frank Schwindel, whom the Cubs had grabbed off the waiver wire a few weeks earlier.

Schwindel did not waste the opportunity. Schwindel hit an eye-popping .342/.389/.613 with 13 home runs in 56 games. Anthony Rizzo wasn’t bad in New York, putting up a line of .249/.340/.428 in 49 games for the Yankees, which was pretty close to what he did in Chicago in 2021 before the trade.

Now I’m not the first one to point this out, but Schwindel was more productive in half a season in the majors in 2021 than Rizzo was the entire season. Schwindel’s WAR for last season was 1.8 according to baseball-reference and 2.1 according to Fangraphs. Rizzo’s WAR was 1.7 by b-r and 1.5 by Fangraphs.

So Schwindel was the better player in 2021. But will he be the better player in 2022? Last week, Al asked if you would rather have Rizzo or Kyle Schwarber back on the Cubs. But can we expect Rizzo to be a better player than Schwindel next year?

Fangraphs have their ZiPS projection up for Schwindel, and they’re predicting that he’ll hit .267/.305/.474. The ZiPS projection for Rizzo isn’t up yet and we don’t even know what team he’s going to be playing for in 2022. But Fangraphs does have the Steamer projection on Rizzo to be .257/.354/.463. (Steamer also is slightly more bullish on Schwindel at .270/.318/.477.)

Now the problem with projecting a player like Schwindel is that there just isn’t a lot of good data to throw into the projection. Like all minor leaguers, he missed the entire 2020 season and none of these projections systems have a way to project how players will do if they missed an entire minor league season because of a pandemic.

Another factor to consider in Schwindel’s favor is that he’s 29 and won’t turn 30 until late-June. Rizzo is almost three years older as he will turn 33 next August. Rizzo has also been extraordinarily healthy throughout his career, but he started to miss games with a back problem last year. That could be a warning sign.

Of course, you could also just say this is ridiculous. Schwindel had a great 56 games last year in Chicago, but there’s little in his biography that indicates that this is much more than just a fluke. Yes, he did seem to be unfairly overlooked in the Royals system and we don’t know what changes he made in 2020 when he wasn’t playing, but even giving him every benefit of the doubt, he’s probably not a 4-to-5 win player over an entire season going forward.

Still, there is that little bit of doubt that maybe last year was for real on Schwindel. There’s also a real concern that Rizzo has started his decline and that it could be steep. We’re assuming that Rizzo will sign somewhere after the lockout ends, so the simple question is: Who will have the better season in 2022? Frank Schwindel or Anthony Rizzo?


Who will have the better 2022 season?

This poll is closed

  • 79%
    Frank Schwindel
    (138 votes)
  • 20%
    Anthony Rizzo
    (35 votes)
173 votes total Vote Now

Thank you again so much for stopping by. I’ll have someone bring you your hat and coat. Please stay warm out there. Tip your waitstaff. And please come by again tomorrow for another edition of BCB After Dark.