Beware the “Player X added Y pounds of muscle this offseason” stories

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I don’t post all of those BSOHL stories simply because I’m unaware of when a joke has been beaten to absolute death. I mean, I am unaware of that, but that’s not the only reason I post them.

I also post them because they are often evidence of a player who is trying to make up for something. A player who had a bad year or who is in decline, trying to signal to the public or to team management or whoever that things are different now and they’re trying to do better.  I think it’s interesting and, depending on how much baloney is involved in the proclamation, tells us something useful.

Often that something is negative, as Jim Margalus of Soutside Sox explains in this excellent post about White Sox players who have, in the past, declared that they have added “pounds of muscle” in the offseason:

I searched through 10 years’ worth of archives for the exact phrase “pounds of muscle,” and I found seven other references to White Sox who bulked up during the offseason. In every case, a worse year followed. In some cases, disaster ensued.

He has the examples. It’s scary stuff.

It’s not what the players say, people. It’s what they do that defines them.

Kyle Schwarber: Before and After

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It’s always a bit deceiving to see offseason workout photos of players who are said to be getting into great shape because guys in those pics are wearing compression shirts and crap and we’re used to seeing them in baseball uniforms. I remember pics of Miguel Cabrera and David Ortiz in the offseason looking svelte, only to see them in uniform come spring as their familiar beefy selves. Uniforms are often loose and billowy and the players wear  a couple of layers when they’re suited up, so at least visually speaking it’s better to compare apples to apples.

Which brings us to Kyle Schwarber. All offseason long we’ve been getting reports about Schwarber working out, losing weight and, of course, getting into The Best Shape of His Life. And some of those pics have definitely shown a young man who has cut fat and gotten lean. Good for him!

Let’s see how that translates to Schwarber in uniform. Here is is at spring training last year:

MESA, AZ – FEBRUARY 21: Kyle Schwarber #12 of the Chicago Cubs poses during Chicago Cubs Photo Day on February 21, 2017 in Mesa, Arizona. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

 

Here he is toward the end of last season:

CHICAGO, IL – SEPTEMBER 09: at Wrigley Field on September 9, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

And here he is now:

MESA, AZ – FEBRUARY 20: Kyle Schwarber #12 of the Chicago Cubs poses during Chicago Cubs Photo Day on February 20, 2018 in Mesa, Arizona. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

 

Nice goin’, kid.