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According to the NationalsKyle Schwarber is one of three players, along with Barry Bonds in 2001 and Sammy Sosa in 1998, to hit 15 home runs in a 17-game stretch. According to MLBSchwarber is the second player, along with Frank Howard in 1968, to hit 11 home runs in a span of nine games. According to Baseball-ReferenceSchwarber’s 1,465 OPS when hitting first makes him the best leadoff hitter of all time.
According to Kyle Schwarber, hitting home runs is fun. Counting them is boring.
On June 12, Schwarber sat 56th in the majors with 10 bombs. The following night, Nationals manager Dave Martinez moved his left fielder to first place. Sixteen days later, after Schwarber added two more in Washington’s 8–4 win over the Mets on Monday, he had risen to fourth with 24 home runs.
He smiled politely on Monday when he was informed of some of the history he’s doing. “I love when you guys come out with some great stats,” he said. But he rarely pays attention to the numbers. “I think it’s best if I don’t, just because, to be honest with you, I want to play stupid,” he said. “That’s the best way to describe it: keep going up and take your turn at bat, don’t remember the previous one, just live in the present. That is the most important. And I think that applies when everything is going well and also when things don’t work out, just being able to turn the page and focus on the at-bat that is at hand or the inning that is at hand or the exit on defense, things. So. . I think that’s the most important thing, is to go out and have a short memory. “
His memory goes back to this winter, when anyone could have had it. In 2020, it failed at an OPS of .701. MLB trade rumors projected he would earn between $ 7 million and $ 9.3 million in his final year of arbitration. In December, the Cubs refused to offer him a contract, making him a free agent. A month later, the Nationals signed him for a year and $ 10 million. He promised general manager Mike Rizzo that he would give the team everything he had.
“I wouldn’t say that I’m going to go out and try to show the team that I was fired from [wrong]Schwarber said, notably avoiding the word Puppies. “It’s more about going out and doing it for me, knowing that I’m a better baseball player than I was last year.”
He had once been a collegiate catcher whom the Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein had compared, in a late-night email, to David Ortiz. “Let’s put this guy right between Javy [Báez] Y [Kris] Bryant and call him a day, ”Epstein wrote. Seven months later, Chicago made Schwarber the fourth pick in the 2014 draft. A year after that, he made his major league debut. That October, he hit a shot on top of the right-field video board at Wrigley; the Cubs encased the ball in Plexiglass. He was a rising star.
Then, in April 2016, he collided with center fielder Dexter Fowler and tore two ligaments in his left knee. Doctors told Schwarber that he would be back for spring training. For the NLCS, he was holding secret batting practice in the middle of the night at Dodger Stadium. He played two games in the Arizona Fall League. He started as a designated hitter in all four games of the World Series under American League rules. He hit .412 when the Cubs claimed their first title in 108 years.
He was never the same again afterwards. He can be a clumsy fielder, even on the left, and hasn’t hit consistently. He has not reached the All-Star heights for which he once seemed destined. After last year’s disappointment, a Chicago team trying to cut costs decided to cut the hook.
He says working with Nationals hitting coach Kevin Long has helped him replicate his swing mechanics. Schwarber says being surrounded by a great lineup has helped him see good pitches. He says he’s just trying to “keep riding the wave.”
Meanwhile, his teammates burst out laughing when he sends another ball into outer space. Martinez bangs his head and smiles when asked if moving Schwarber to the top spot is the best managerial decision of his career. And the Nationals move up the National League East standings, where they are now at .500, three games behind New York. Those odds are not bad. Just don’t ask Schwarber to calculate them.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.