Rob Maaddi, FISM News
Kyle Schwarber keeps smacking baseballs over the fence.
The power-hitting outfielder hit two more home runs Wednesday night in the Philadelphia Phillies’ 3-2 loss to the Washington Nationals. Schwarber also hit a pair of homers Tuesday night and has gone deep seven times in his last nine games and nine times over his last 13 contests.
Overall, he leads the National League with 27 home runs and trails Aaron Judge by three for most in the majors.
Schwarber’s recent power display has helped the Phillies catapult in the wild-card race despite missing reigning NL Most Valuable Player Bryce Harper, who is sidelined since having thumb surgery.
“We’re striving to get to the postseason,” Schwarber told reporters. “We’ve got to take it one day at a time. We can’t look at the end prize right now. We just have to focus on what’s ahead of us.”
Schwarber’s 27 home runs are the most ever by a Phillies player in his first 80 games with the team, surpassing Raul Ibanez’s 26 in 2009. He has the fifth-most homers by a Phillie before the break, trailing only Mike Schmidt’s 31 in 1979, Ryan Howard’s 28 in 2006 and 2008 and Jim Thome’s 28 in 2004. The Phillies have 10 more games for Schwarber to catch up.
Schwarber recorded his second consecutive multi-home run game, becoming the first Phillies player to do so since Chase Utley in April 2006. Schwarber has five multi-homer games second to Judge’s six.
The Phillies signed Schwarber to a $79 million, four-year contract in March. He’s been worth every penny for a team that hasn’t reached the postseason since 2011.
The 225-pound, slow-footed Schwarber isn’t the prototypical leadoff hitter. He’s not going to steal many bases, though he has already tied his career-best by swiping four bags.
“I’ve taken that label off it,” he said of the leadoff role. “I’ve been there plenty of times in my career and not been successful. I just try to go up there and do what I do best and try hit the baseball on the barrel, take a walk, get on base for the guys behind me.”
Schwarber hasn’t allowed batting first to change his approach or alter his power stroke.
“It’s always nice if you can start the game with one point but if I can go up there and work the pitcher and try to get all of his pitches out of the way and let these guys see it behind me, that’s only a positive thing,” he said. “I’m just trying to find ways to get on base whether it’s a hit, homer, walk, whatever it is. It’s not going to be perfect all the time but I have to go out there and have good at-bats.”
Phillies fans, desperate for a winning team, have embraced the 29-year-old former first-round pick. They call his homers “Schwar-bombs” and the slugger insists he’s not doing anything different at the plate.
“I just always go back to the process,” Schwarber said. “They’re just happening to go out of the park. It’s not like I’m going up there trying to hit a home run.”
Schwarber spent his first six seasons with the Chicago Cubs and helped them win the World Series in 2016. He missed that entire season and first two rounds of the postseason recovering from knee surgery but returned for the World Series and batted .412 in the seven-game series against Cleveland.
The Cubs declined to offer him a contract after he had a poor 2020 season. He signed with the Nationals in 2021 and hit 25 homers in only 73 games before he was traded to the Boston Red Sox. Schwarber connected for seven homers in 41 games with the Red Sox and went back to the postseason with them.
The Phillies and their fans are hoping his prodigious power gets them to play meaningful baseball games in October.