Schanuel extends on-base streak to 22, continues to impress

September 17th, 2023

ANAHEIM -- ­­With his incredibly quick callup to the Majors, it was fair to wonder how first baseman would handle his first taste of the big leagues.

But Schanuel has been an on-base machine for the Angels as a leadoff hitter, extending his on-base streak to 22 straight games to open his career by going 1-for-4 with a double in a 5-3 loss to the Tigers on Sunday. It’s the longest such streak since Christopher Morel also reached base in 22 consecutive games to start his career with the Cubs in 2021. He already broke the club record of 15 straight set by Darin Erstad in 1996.

“I’m just trying to fill the role of being a leadoff guy and just trying to get on base for the big guys behind me,” Schanuel said. “If they want me to [go for more power] in the future, I’ll work toward that. But as of right now, it’s getting on base.”

Schanuel, who was called up just 40 days after being selected as the No. 11 pick in this year’s Draft out of Florida Atlantic University, is in rare territory, as the 22-game on-base streak to open his career is tied for the sixth-longest in the expansion era (since 1961) and the 11th longest going all the way back to 1901. The record is 47 straight by Alvin Davis during his AL Rookie of the Year season with the Mariners in 1984, while the second-longest is 26 games by both George Scott (1966) and Dick Howser (1961).

Schanuel reached the mark with a double with two outs in the fifth off lefty Joey Wentz. David Fletcher followed with an RBI single to get the Angels on the board.

“It’s just really impressive just the way he’s slowed things down in the box since Day One,” manager Phil Nevin said. “He’s looked comfortable. He knows the zone as well as anybody I’ve seen.”

Schanuel has slashed .292/.412/.353 with one homer, two doubles, four RBIs and 15 runs scored through his first 22 games in the Majors. Impressively, he’s walked 15 times and struck out 13 times in 102 plate appearances.

The power, however, hasn’t quite shown up yet, although Schanuel hit his first Major League homer on Saturday. It was a no-doubter off Tigers right-hander Sawyer Gipson-Long that left the bat at 103.5 mph and went a projected 389 feet to right field.

He got the silent treatment as he headed into the dugout, and his teammates said they had been joking with him about how long it took to finally hit his first homer. Even lefty Tyler Anderson quipped that he hit his first homer as a pitcher in his seventh career game, while Schanuel didn’t homer until his 21st game.

“We were all super excited for Nolan and we’ve all been teasing him,” Anderson said. “He’s a really good hitter. Just great zone awareness. But we like to make fun of him and say I homered before you in a fewer number of at-bats.”

Schanuel, a 6-foot-4, 220-pounder, has the frame to add power, and the 21-year-old said he’s simply trying to do his job of getting on base as the club’s leadoff man. He also said he’s been trying to adapt to wooden bats, as he was using aluminum bats in college just a few months ago.

“It’s been kind of an adjustment learning from college four months ago to now,” Schanuel said. “And just adjusting from the metal because there’s so much more forgiveness with metal. With the wood, it’s about learning the sweet spot and going from there.”

His play has impressed his older teammates, especially with his ability to control the strike zone despite his inexperience in the Majors. Fellow first baseman Jared Walsh, who was called back up on Friday and homered on Friday and Saturday, said Schanuel is already starting to establish himself as one of the better bat-control hitters in the league.

“I’m really impressed,” Walsh said. “I was watching him when I was in Triple-A and I mean, I would say he's one of the best bat to ball guys in baseball right now. And he's had 100 at-bats. I can't say enough about a guy who played like two weeks in the Minor Leagues and is holding his own in the big leagues.”