In the case for Philadelphia Phillies outfielder/DH Kyle Schwarber, he seems to be doing his best impression of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde throughout the 2023 season. When it comes to consistency and production during the current campaign, Schwarber is one where you love him when he's on and can't stand him when he's off.
In the past few games, his performance has pretty summed up much of his season. In the series against the Miami Marlins last week, Schwarber would continue his usual struggles at the plate, going 1-for-14 with five walks and five strikeouts. He followed that up with another 0-for-8 in his first two games against the Kansas City Royals, but then suddenly bursting out with a 3-for-4 showing with a home run in the final game of the series. Then the very next day, he would blast two homers in the first game of the doubleheader against the Washington Nationals, and then follow that up with another 0’fer in the nightcap.
If we take a careful look back into the history of his baseball career, Schwarber was actually quite the prolific hitter, both during his college years, as well as while coming up the Chicago Cubs minor league system. He actually never had a year in which he hit below .300, along with a constant OPS over 1.000, while displaying tremendous power along with a low strikeout rate. However, once he reached the big leagues, he had struggled to hit for average, despite the power numbers being always there, along with the strikeouts piling up each year.
It has appeared that the more he grew into some bad habits going for the big blast, the less effective he became as a hitter, ultimately now becoming a “three true outcomes” hitter. So for Phillies fans, they all know what they will be getting from Schwarber; a walk, a big home run, or a strikeout for the bulk of his at-bats. This certainly holds true as last year, he led the NL in home runs and strikeouts, along with being in the top ten in walks and lowest batting average among qualified players. For the 2023 season, he has hit a dismal .183, but has managed 30 home runs, 72 RBI while striking out a league-leading 149 times in just 420 at-bats.
But looking deep inside of Schwarber, he definitely has the innate ability to hit effectively if he focussed on it, since as recently as 2021, he hit for the highest average in his MLB career, along with producing respectable power numbers along the way. So if Schwarber can somehow rekindle that approach at the plate, it will no doubt leave less frustrations not only for the players, but the fans as well in recapturing the consistency needed to make him the complete ballplayer he once was.
But until then, the Phillies’ will probably have to endure much more stress and frustrations when he fails to produce and snuffs out many Phillies’ rallies, while at the same time, appreciate that he can still produce the odd big hit to help the ballclub win some critical ballgames in the process. Nevertheless, as faint as it may be, many hope that he can finally become the difference maker for the ballclub down the stretch and heading into the postseason when things matter most.