Coming out of spring training, the Philadelphia Phillies never intended on hitting Kyle Schwarber in the leadoff spot.
It just sort of happened.
Though it wasn’t perfect, Schwarber remained there largely because the Phillies weren’t filled with other options.
Could the Phillies have inserted Jean Segura or Bryson Stott in the No. 1 position? Sure.
They largely stuck with Schwarber and it worked for the most part.
Schwarber ripped a National League-leading 46 home runs and added career-highs in runs scored (100) and RBI (94). He contributed 21 doubles, three triples and a career-high 10 stolen bases. Schwarber never posted more than four stolen bases in any other season.
Add in Schwarber’s leadership and he was quite valuable.
He still is.
But when the 2023 regular season starts, it would be wise to drop Schwarber down in the order. Let him have the ability to drive in runs more often with runners on base.
It’s hard to predict who should hit leadoff since the roster is far from tweaked.
Whether Schwarber hits No. 3, 4, 5, 6 or wherever, he’ll continue to make an impact. That much is a given.
“He’s done it in a lot of different places, and when that usually happens, that tends to not be an accident,” Rhys Hoskins said during the National League Championship Series. “Some guys just have that knack. They know what it takes to win. They know how to bring guys together, which I think has probably been some of the most important stuff he’s done in a Phillies uniform.”
Schwarber was equally admired at every other stop with the Washington Nationals, Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox.
“He’s very outgoing and very honest with people,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “He jokes around about himself a lot which makes people feel comfortable to approach him. He helps the veterans, he helps the kids. And he goes through slumps, too, or periods of time when he’s not swinging the bat particularly well. Even though he’s trying to fix his own stuff, he’s still trying to help other people. That’s a great sign of a great teammate.”
If Thomson opts to place Schwarber in the leadoff role again, he’ll do fine.
That’s not the point.
The Phillies’ lineup will ultimately be much more dominant if they can drop Schwarber down.
Those mammoth home run blasts will be even more impressive with runners consistently on base.
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