Schwarber passes Mr. October on all-time lefty HR list

October 21st, 2023

PHOENIX -- When stepped to the plate in the fourth inning on Friday night, D-backs manager Torey Lovullo brought in Kyle Nelson in the hope that the lefty-on-lefty matchup would limit the damage Schwarber has been known to cause.

Instead, the Phillies' designated hitter took a mighty swing on a full-count fastball high in the zone, then admired how the ball blazed into the night with a 114.6 mph exit velocity -- the sixth-hardest-hit homer of his career -- before trotting around the bases while pointing to Philadelphia's bullpen in celebration.

Schwarber knew that his Statcast-projected 403-foot homer temporarily changed the momentum in the Phillies' eventual 6-5 loss in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series at Chase Field. What he didn’t know was that, with his 19th career postseason homer, he surpassed Reggie Jackson for the most by a left-handed hitter in MLB history.

“I think it's a cool stat,” Schwarber said. “I think it means more whenever it’s all said and done, whenever my career is over with. It’s a great baseball player to be accompanied by; it’s such a cool thing. I think, for me, that'll be cool when everything is going to be all said and done.”

Of Schwarber’s 19 career home runs, including four this series, nine have come over the past two postseasons with the Phillies. He hit three with the Red Sox in 2021 and the remaining six with the Cubs from 2015-17.

Schwarber is the second-quickest player to reach 19 homers in postseason history, doing so in just his 62nd career playoff game. It took him 243 plate appearances to break the record, while Jackson finished with 318 career trips to the plate in the postseason.

“I've always been very lucky to be on really good teams,” Schwarber said. “I got kind of spoiled when I was young coming up in the big leagues and made the postseason. I’ve missed the postseason once. It's a special brand of baseball, and it's a brand of baseball that you want to play every single year. For us, we just have to keep going.”

Schwarber has hit at least 40 home runs in five of his nine seasons in the Majors, and he's had no trouble carrying that power over to the postseason. He’s tied with Albert Pujols and George Springer for fifth on the overall postseason home run leaderboard. Manny Ramírez holds the record with 29.

At the pace Schwarber is knocking the ball out of the park, combined with how frequently he tends to play in the postseason, breaking Ramírez’s record is attainable.

“Everything is amplified,” Schwarber said. “It's all about bundling yourself up and pouring into your teammates, into your team and into your city, and making sure that moment is quiet.

“It's always going to be loud. The biggest thing is trying to knock off the noise. ... Whenever you're in that at-bat, you want to just go quiet and really focus on what's going on.”

Schwarber isn’t going to celebrate the milestone too much with the Phillies having squandered a two-game lead in the NLCS by dropping back-to-back games against the D-backs.

After all, Schwarber’s role isn’t just hitting for power. The Phillies rely on him to be a leader, and given what’s at stake in Saturday's Game 5, now is the best time to have him both in the batter’s box and in the clubhouse.

“The reality is that it’s 2-2,” Schwarber said. “We've got to be able to come out [Saturday], we've got to be able to respond. We have a good pitcher [Zack Wheeler] going for us, and obviously, they've got their best going as well [Zac Gallen]. It’s going to be up to us to try to find a way to fight, scratch and claw for anything that we can get.

“Obviously, everyone's going to be upset after a tough loss. It is what it is. It's tough. Hopefully, everyone can lay their head down at night, and then once they do hit the pillow, everything's kind of flushed out. Come back in and have a regular day.”