For Philadelphia Phillies fans expecting a new-look lineup this upcoming season, sorry to burst your bubble, but it appears manager Rob Thomson is content with staying the course. As of right now, at least, Kyle Schwarber will be leading off again.
As reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer's Alex Coffey, Thomson met with the media at Citizen's Bank Park on Wednesday and spoke on a variety of topics. When the question of who will lead off in 2024 entered the chat, Thomson could have quoted a famous Talking Heads lyric: "Same as it ever was."
Thomson makes his case for batting Kyle Schwarber leadoff in 2024
The question of who should bat lead off for the team is a divisive one among Phillies fans. On one side, you have the pro-Schwarber crowd who have fallen in love with the "Schwarbomb," the lefty slugger's knack for ambushing a fastball for a home run to begin the game.
Schwarber took over the leadoff spot on June 2 last season and spent the rest of the year there. He mashed 34 of his 47 home runs over those 104 games from the top spot while walking 86 times around 145 of his MLB-leading 215 strikeouts.
The other side of the fan base would like to see Bryson Stott or Trea Turner take over the leadoff spot in a more conventional table-setter arrangement. So, what does Rob Thomson have to say about change at the top of the lineup?
“We’ve got a lot of options there with Trea [Turner] and with [Bryson] Stott," explained Thomson per Coffey. "But at this point, I don’t think anybody can argue the fact that we’ve won a lot of games with Schwarber in the leadoff spot and scored a lot of runs with him in the leadoff spot. Is it what you’d write up in a book on how to write up lineups? Probably not. It works for us.”
For those hoping for change at the leadoff spot this season, don't get your hopes up. While Thomson seemed intent on staying the course with Schwarber in the one-hole, he didn't completely dismiss the idea of change when pressed more on the topic when fielding additional questions.
“Well, I haven’t said that Schwarber’s the leadoff guy because we have a lot of options and a lot of things happen during spring training,” Thomson added, per Coffey. “It’s still open. But if we end up on Schwarber, the reason’s probably going to be that I feel pretty good about where he’s at offensively and we’ve won a lot of games with him there.”
The Phillies still have a lot of time to figure out how they want to use this roster heading into the new season. As of now, the team has more pressing concerns as it navigates the next few weeks of free agency and roster construction heading into spring training.
If the season started right now, it appears the leadoff spot is Kyle Schwarber's job to lose.