The "Fast Hulk" has taken the Cubs lineup to a whole new level.
Addison Russell's nickname for Kyle Schwarber is oddly fitting, especially the way Schwarber has been mashing at the plate and chasing fly balls down in his new position in left field.
"He runs or moves better than he looks," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "He doesn't have the speedster look to him, but he moves well."
The Cubs have won 10 of their last 11 games, averaging 4.73 runs per contest in that stretch.
Schwarber has started every game but one in that span, even forcing Maddon to move Starlin Castro to the bench to keep Schwarber's bat in the lineup every day in left field.
"He's been huge," pitcher Kyle Hendricks said. "The whole lineup has kinda taken over the mentality of how he goes about it when he's up there - hunting the heater, hunting a good pitch in the middle of the zone and putting a good swing on it.
"Guy's been aggressive at the plate and you've seen the results. It's pretty fun to watch."
Schwarber has posted a .341 average and 1.033 OPS throughout his first 28 games in the big leagues, scoring 23 runs and driving in 21 more.
Anthony Rizzo marveled at how Schwarber has done all this while getting a crash course on how to catch at the major-league level as well as switching to a position (left field) that he played just 36 games at in the minor leagues before his call-up.
Kris Bryant just thinks Schwarber is a freak.
"He brings a presence and I think that's more important than any home run or double that you can hit on the field," Bryant said. "Having his name in the lineup is extremely important to us.
"He's obviously been a key role in our success recently, but I wasn't expecting anything else from him. The guy is a freak of nature. It's been fun watching him play."
Maddon has loved how "eager" Schwarber has been to absorb information and credits the rookie's thirst for learning as part of what sets him apart from other first-year players.
One of Maddon's catchphrases (he has a lot) since taking over as Cubs manager has been, "Don't let the pressure exceed the pleasure," and he feels Schwarber "really gets that" mindset.
"A very confident young major-league player," Maddon said. "Very confident. People might attach 'cocky' to that, but I think he handles it well. I think he thinks he's good at the plate and I think people that watch him feel the same way.
"He's going to meet up with some difficulty at some point like everybody does. He'll work through it. He's got an incredible work ethic."
It's been only 14 months or so since the Cubs made Schwarber the fourth overall pick in the MLB Draft. When he was selected, baseball analysts questioned if he'd be able to stick at catcher, but everybody knew the bat would play eventually.
Though, nobody expected Schwarber's bat to play at this level this early.
"Yes and no [there was a sense of surprise on Schwarber's success]," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said. "Yes in the sense that I don't think it's ever appropriate to expect a completely seamless transition because big-league pitching is so hard to hit, especially for young players these days.
"But no on the other hand, in that he's such a mature, polished, intelligent, gifted hitter, we felt like he could handle some of the best pitching in the world.
"I think maybe the surprise is just over a year into his professional career, he's catching victories in the middle of a pennant race at the big-league level. That's a surprise. A testament to his hard work, how quickly that's come and the coaching he's gotten both at the minor-league level and up here."
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Jon Lester, who's seen just about everything during his decade in the big leagues, said he's not surprised at Schwarber's success now that he's gotten to know the 22-year-old slugger.
"He's a baseball player," Lester said. "There aren't many guys like that. ... He understands the game, he understands the situation and he doesn't let the situation get too much of him.
"He goes out there and plays the game, whether he's catching or playing left field or if you stuck him at first base, I'm sure he'd do the same thing.
"It's been impressive to see and it's been impressive to see the adjustments he's made offensively and defensively behind the plate. He's just a baseball player."