The Phillies have tried a handful of guys in the leadoff spot, but none have thrived in the role quite like Kyle Schwarber has lately.
After Bryson Stott held down the spot for a while, manager Rob Thomson slotted Schwarber in atop the lineup Friday. He’s been there since, hitting .300 (6-for-20) with three homers, a double and four walks, as well as seven strikeouts.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Schwarber have so much success at the top of the order. Until something changes, it’s probably fair to expect he’ll continue to have that gig.
“Ever since we put him in the leadoff spot last year, we’ve won,” Thomson said Wednesday on the 94 WIP Morning Show. “You can talk about his batting average and all that stuff, but this guy’s a force. That guy walks to the plate as the first hitter of the game, the starting pitcher better be on his toes or it’s going to be 1-0. And he walks, too, and he’s comfortable there.
“You guys know me, I want people to be comfortable and feel comfortable with what they’re doing, where they’re playing, where they’re hitting, what their role is. It makes for a better performance.”
That does raise the question, though, of if the Phillies are really setting Schwarber up for success by hitting him anywhere other than leadoff. The bulk of his games this season he has hit from the fifth or third spots in the order.
Stott and Trea Turner might represent more prototypical leadoff options. However, Thomson said his preference would be to have Turner hit second, but Nick Castellanos is performing well there now.
If shuffling does become necessary and Schwarber has to get bumped, Thomson isn’t worried about it adversely impacting performance.
“I don’t think it’ll affect him all that much, but I just know (leadoff) is where in his mind he hits the best,” Thomson said. “So whatever that is, I take that to heart and I want to make sure he’s comfortable. And really, that’s what it is. He hit fifth for us for a while and he still hit a bunch of home runs and started to walk, but now the at-bats are really getting good.”