MLB: The most valuable left fielders of 2019

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 15: Fans and Washington Nationals left fielder Juan Soto (22) await the ball during a MLB game between the Washington Nationals and the Atlanta Braves, on September 15, 2019, at Nationals Park, in Washington, D.C.(Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 15: Fans and Washington Nationals left fielder Juan Soto (22) await the ball during a MLB game between the Washington Nationals and the Atlanta Braves, on September 15, 2019, at Nationals Park, in Washington, D.C.(Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /

8. Kyle Schwarber, Chicago Cubs, $6.665 million value; $3.39 million salary

This is blasphemy, but if Schwarber could find a way to add 80 points to his batting average, he’d be Ted Williams.

In every other way, the players are similar. Neither was respected as a fielder or for their arm or speed, but both showed solid plate discipline, and both had front-rank sock.

Schwarber’s 2019 included a .250 batting average that was distinctly un-Williams-like. The distinction largely lay in his failure-to-contact rate, which included 156 whiffs in 529 official at bats.

At the same time, Schwarber did draw 70 bases on balls, driving his on base average to nearly 90 points higher than his batting average. About those home runs: He hit a team-leading 38 of them, the whole of his offensive line reducing to a 2.3 WAR. With the stick, it made him a $5.606 million player.

Defensively, Schwarber was sub-par, although probably not as sub-par as the image of him would suggest. He accepted 1.72 chances per game, slightly below the positional average and translating to $441,000 in value.

As a constant home run threat, there was rarely a good reason for Joe Maddon to strike Schwarber’s name from the lineup. That involved him in 1,157 innings of work, fourth best at the position and valuing at a final $619,000.

To really help the Cubs in 2020, Schwarber needs to complete his offensive maturation. The home runs and walks are already there; he needs to turn more strikeouts into base hits.