Kyle Schwarber is a man of the people. So, of course, he hears the people.
Schwarber said as much Monday evening at Petco Park in San Diego. Asked about his unusual 2023 season, he said, “Yeah, I think I’ve been a topic of conversation for a little bit.”
And why is that?
“I don’t know,” he said. “I guess the WAR stat doesn’t like me. Heck, do I like seeing a .193 [batting average]? No. Do I wish I was hitting higher? Absolutely. But, at the end of the day, I have to find a way to be a productive player for the team and help the team win. If that’s walking, if it’s driving in runs, scoring runs, whatever it is -- that’s what I have to do. The average part is frustrating, obviously. But everything else has been there. It’s kind of like the double-edged sword, right? But if we keep winning baseball games, heck, that’s all that matters.”
So, how unusual has Schwarber’s season been?
Really, really unusual.
Schwarber is batting .195 with 41 home runs, 90 RBIs and an .816 OPS. He is the team’s leadoff hitter, which some fans still can’t grasp. A guy batting below .200 hitting leadoff? A guy that can’t steal bases?
Yeah, and the Phillies keep winning.
Here is some interesting historical perspective on Schwarber’s season, courtesy of MLB.com’s Sarah Langs and Thomas Harrigan:
Schwarber’s OPS is on pace to be the highest by any qualified player to hit less than .200 in a season. It also would be …
• The highest OPS+ (122)
• The highest slugging percentage (.472)
• The most home runs
• The most RBIs
• The most total bases (240)
• Tied with Tom Tresh for the second-highest offensive WAR (2.4)
• Schwarber is on pace to be the first qualified Phillies player to have more walks (112) than hits (99) in a season. It has happened 47 other times in baseball history, most recently by Juan Soto (2022) and Joey Gallo (2021).
• Schwarber needs three more home runs to hold the top two spots in Phillies history in homers from the leadoff spot. He hit 38 homers as the leadoff hitter last year. Jimmy Rollins hit 30 in 2007. Schwarber has hit 28 of his 41 homers this year from the leadoff spot.
Forget about Schwarber’s batting average for a second. Say, for argument’s sake, he is batting a more digestible .250. Schwarber entered Saturday tied for 39th out of 139 players in on-base percentage (.344), 44th in slugging percentage (.472) and tied for 37th in OPS.
High on-base, high slug, hits bombs.
Sounds like a solid leadoff hitter.
“I just want to go out there and win baseball games,” Schwarber said. “I’ve gotten through the arbitration system. I’m here for [two more] years. Now, it’s time to win baseball games. What we did last year was great, and we came up short. We want to get back in that spot and hopefully finish the job. It’s not easy. But that’s why I wanted to come here and be a part of this. We have a really good team that is capable of going deep in the postseason every year.”