Kyle Schwarber has been the topic of conversation many times this season. When the Philadelphia Phillies signed Trea Turner last offseason, it was speculated that he would be the team's main leadoff hitter— supplanting Schwarber who held that spot most of last season. On Opening Day, it was Turner in the leadoff spot with the left-handed power bat hitting behind him.
Rob Thomson has changed the lineup around quite a bit to start the year due to injuries (and players returning from injury) and based on player performance. Early in the season Turner held the top spot, later Bryson Stott was given a chance for a time— and he performed well as the table setter. Schwarber was struggling hitting in different spots in the lineup. In early June, he was reinserted in the leadoff spot and while he has not always looked like a typical leadoff hitter, the results have been undeniably positive.
Since June 2nd, the Phillies are 15 games over .500 with Schwarber hitting first in the lineup. His numbers have spoken for themselves as his slugging percentage and OPS have been impressive and he has hit almost half of his home runs in the span.
The Phillies are currently 51-42 after taking three of four from the San Diego Padres over the weekend. In games that the Phillies have won this season, Schwarber is slashing .244/.364/.569 with .933 OPS. In losses, the slugger is slashing just .118/.247/.283 with a .530 OPS. He is obviously not the only reason for these wins, but the team goes as he goes.
Whether anyone wants to admit it or not, Schwarber is a catalyst for the club. He is streaky and does not hit for average, but the offensive impact he makes when he is contributing is noteworthy. While he is not a prototypical leadoff hitter and his strikeout rate can be frustrating, the team thrives if he is making things happen at the top of the lineup. Schwarber is also noted as one of the leaders in the clubhouse and leadership cannot be understated.
When a respected guy in the clubhouse is setting the table and making things happen from the top spot, the team can rally behind that. Think back to Jimmy Rollins. He was the clubhouse leader and the leadoff hitter for many of the seasons in which the Phillies saw consistent success. Schwarber and Rollins are two totally different players, and their personalities are not the same, but their team's success became dependent on their leadership and production. Hopefully Schwarber's production will improve, and he can lower his strikeout rate while helping the Phillies reach their second straight postseason.