What do we think of Kyle Schwarber's season so far?

Kyle Schwarber's season has been a roller coaster so far. Let's take a look and try to determine what his true value to this Phillies team and organization is.
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Philadelphia Phillies v Tampa Bay Rays / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages
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The Positives:

1.     He’s hitting home runs – he leads the team with 22 homers with the next closest at 13. He ranks 8th in the entire MLB. 

2.     RBI Total  – he has 49 RBI which is good for third on the team. 

3.     Drawing Walks – he continues to have a good eye and take walks. He has a team high 58 walks which is 25 more than the next highest on the team.

The Negatives:

1.     Striking out way too much – he has 117 Ks this year which puts him on pace to end the year with 213. 117 strikeouts put him at the top of list in the entire MLB.

2.     He’s batting an abysmal .184. He has 61 hits, 22 coming from homeruns. At this point, we’re basically hoping for either a walk or a homer. 

3.     Defense – he is a major liability in LF. According to ESPN, he has a -2.2 dWAR which ranks dead last for qualified left fielders. Everyone knew about his defensive shortcomings when he was signed but what could not have been predicted was that Bryce Harper would have to be the full-time DH forcing Schwarber into the field. Needless to say, it’s been a bumpy ride. 

The numbers could be dissected over and over again but they simply do not cut it for a lead-off hitter who is making ~$20 million a year. But when evaluating Kyle Schwarber's value to a baseball team, you have to look at more than just the accounting stats on the back of his baseball card. Since Rob Thomson inserted Schwarber back in the leadoff spot the Phillies are 23-10, going from a record of 25-31 to 48-41. That has to count for something, right? 

In those 33 games, Schwarber hit for nine home runs, five of which led the game off, and one game winner in Los Angeles which he was able to get an extra at-bat being the lead off hitter. It is also noteworthy that the Phillies are 8-0 in games when Schwarber hits a home run (hit two against the Nationals on June 4th). His leadoff style is far from prototypical but he sets a tone for this team that they seem to follow. and there is no doubt he is working the count and having good bats most times up. He sees an average of 4.14 pitches per plate appearance which ranks 25th in the MLB and that shows in his 58 walks which ranks 4th in the MLB. 

What doesn’t show up on the stat sheet and is likely impossible to quantify is Schwarber's innate ability to lead a team and be a positive, uplifting presence in the clubhouse. There is no doubt that he is one of the leaders of this team. It is obvious that everyone in that clubhouse, especially the young guys, look to him for guidance and to be a consistent presence. It's hard to say that the skipper doesn't feel the same way because despite Schwarber's obvious struggles in the field and, at times, at the plate he has started in every game this year.

There’s no doubt this year has been a frustrating one for the Phillies powerful left fielder. Even the idea that he’s having a “solid” year can make any evaluator or fan’s head heart. He will strikeout on three pitches with a guy on third and less than two outs but will then hit a 450-foot bomb to the upper deck two innings later. He will drop an easy ball in left field but then work a 12 pitch walk to hand the baton to the next hitter in the lineup. Most importantly, he will blast “Dancing on my own” by Calum Scott in the locker room after wins while cracking open a beer for his teammates.

So, the question is, what do we think of Kyle Schwarber’s season? Is he adding more positives than negatives to the team and organization?

Bottom Line – Although the batting average hovers around .180, the strike outs remain amongst the top of the league, and the defense leaves much to be desired. I feel Schwarber’s home run power, table setting at bats, and most importantly the intangible leadership qualities make Kyle Schwarber an extremely valuable member of this team. Winning is what matters and no one can argue with the 23-10 record with Schwarber at the leadoff spot.