Schebler working to build on late-season success

Statcast data shows improvement in second Reds stint for RF, who's focusing on swinging at strikes

Schebler working to build on late-season success

CINCINNATI -- Following the 2016 season, Reds right fielder Scott Schebler took some time to decompress, including a vacation to Australia that helped him unwind. Now, with Spring Training quickly approaching, he has already been at work to get ready and make improvements for the coming season.

"I've worked on the path to my swing," Schebler said. "As I go to Spring Training, I need to work on just swinging at strikes. I know it's tough to work on unless you're getting live pitching, but I want to do it. I looked up my stats, and it's like this for anybody: When you're swinging at strikes, you're going to have a lot more success."

Schebler, 26, batted .265/.330/.432 with nine home runs and 40 RBIs in 82 games last season. Acquired last offseason from the Dodgers, he opened the year in a left-field platoon with Adam Duvall, and he struggled while Duvall posted All-Star level numbers. Schebler batted .188/.246/.344 in 27 games before he was optioned to Triple-A Louisville.

Following Jay Bruce's Aug. 1 trade to the Mets, Schebler was promoted and became the new everyday right fielder. He batted .290/.357/.461 with eight homers.

"At times, I chased quite a bit last year," Schebler said. "You strive to make sure you're in the zone. That's a tough thing, especially when pitchers have the stuff they do today. That's one thing for me, don't expand the strike zone and swing at strikes. That can be worked on by everybody. But going into Spring Training, that will be an emphasis for me."

According to Statcast™ data, during his first big league stint with the Reds, Schebler had a 73.2 in-zone swing rate (79 swings at 108 pitches) and he made contact 61 times for a 77.2 in-zone contact rate. He batted .233 (7-for-30) on pitches inside the zone, with five extra-base hits and five strikeouts.

Out of the strike zone, Schebler chased 36.4 percent of the time, with 64 swings on 176 pitches, and he made contact 29 times, or 45.3 percent. He batted .152 (5-for-33) with 14 strikeouts.

When Schebler returned in August, he was better at making contact -- especially when swinging in the zone. His in-zone swing rate inched up to 79 percent (211 swings at 267 pitches) with a contact rate 83.4 percent (176 swings). He batted .330 (36-for-109) with five homers, six doubles, 14 strikeouts and a .541 slugging percentage.

Out of the zone, Schebler had a 37.4 chase rate (180 swings at 481 pitches) in August, with a 60 percent contact rate (108 swings). He batted .241 (20-for-83) with three homers and 25 strikeouts. Although he improved at making contact, his slugging percentage sank to .341.

According to the heat maps, when Schebler chased outside of the zone in his first stint, he went more up and away. He chased down and away after he was recalled.

Schebler believed he was more at ease with himself and the club after his return.

"A lot of it had to do with getting to know my teammates and getting comfortable," Schebler said. "I'll go to Spring Training and know people this year. I'm excited to build off of that success. Hopefully it's a great year, not necessarily for me, but for the team."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.