To say this Phillies season is a weird one is like saying Jalen Hurts is a good quarterback… it’s just a fact. The Phillies came into the 2023 MLB season as the defending National League Champions, entering with multiple questions marks surrounding the team. Would Kyle Schwarber continue to hit leadoff, or would he pass the mantle to newly signed Trea Turner? Who would be the 5th starter? How would the bullpen look, after an unbelievable postseason run? When would Bryce Harper’s elbow rehabilitation be over and when would he be back in the lineup? What would the Phillies do with Rhys Hoskins and Aaron Nola after the season? How would Bryson Stott, Brandon Marsh, and Alec Bohm look as everyday players? The Phillies started out ice cold, a horrible 6-10 start before finally waking up and getting back to .500. Since May 31st, The Phillies have been the 5th best in baseball, sitting at 58-40. As I mentioned, questions have surrounded the team all offseason, into this season, and still do. However, one thing stands true…. This Phillies team is exactly where they should be, leading the NL Wildcard race, expecting a home series in the playoffs, and crushing baseballs at historic clips.
Traditional Leadoff Hitter? Nah, we got Kyle
Kyle Schwarber, nicknamed “The Conundrum” by a good friend of mine, is one of the most fascinating stories in baseball. Through positives and negatives, Rob Thompson has said Schwarber will be the leadoff hitter to set the table for this potent lineup and he has stayed true to his word. Kyle is the perfect “New Age” leadoff hitter, which drives baseball purest into angry fits of rage. Baseball’s move from traditional leadoff hitters batting .300 is unseen in this new version of America’s pastime, run now by sabermetrics and statistics. And looking more into Kyle’s numbers, the enigma surrounding him only grows larger. Kyle is on pace to be the first player in MLB history as leadoff hitter to walk over 100 times, score 100 runs, and hit below .200, currently hitting .197 with 10 games to go. Kyle is the 1st player since Ryan Howard to have consecutive 45 HR seasons for our Phillies. He is the only hitter with 50+ runs and 50+ RBI since the all-star break. And with 1 more RBI on the season, he will be the third Phillies player ever to have a season with 45+ HRs, 100+ runs scored, 100+walks, and 100+ RBI, matching Ryan Howard in 2006 and Mike Schmidt in 1979. Kyle Schwarber has 90 HR combined in his first two seasons with the Phillies. That passes Jim Thome (89 from 2003-04) for the most by a player in their first 2 seasons with the team in Phillies history. He is currently 2nd in baseball with 45 HRS, one off his career high, and currently sits at a solid .345 OBP. He’s clearly helped set the table for the lineup, as mentioned, scoring 100+ runs, however, he has also been dreadful at times, hitting below .200 while also leading the MLB in strikeouts, currently sitting at 204.
How has the Daycare been?
The Phillies came into this year with the intention of Bryson Stott being their everyday 2nd baseman, Alec Bohm being their everyday 3rd baseman, and Brandon Marsh being their everyday centerfielder. These 3 have continued to be huge for the Phillies, especially in a lineup that is set up for more power than contact. With the way Dave Dombrowski has set this team up, it was imperative to have some homegrown talent become stalwarts in the everyday lineup and all 3 have massively produced. Stott started the season with a hit in 17 straight games, setting the Phillies record for most games with a hit to start a season. Stott currently sits at 15 HRs and 29 steals, one away from his first 15/30 season. Bohm is hitting .355 with runners in scoring position this season, sitting 3rd on the team with 92 RBIs and has the potential for his first 100 RBI season. Brandon Marsh was on pace for his first 15/15 season, although missed about 30 games due to an injury, crashing into the centerfield wall ala Aaron Rowand style. Marsh continues to play great defensively and is currently sitting with an impressive .375 OBP.
The Phillies’ goal this year was and still is to win the World Series and to do that, you have to make the playoffs first. The offense has propelled the Phillies to the 1 Seed in the NL Wild Card, currently sitting with a magic number of 7 to guarantee a homefield series. As we know from last year, Citizens Bank is a place where no visiting team wants to come. It has been talked at length about how that atmosphere threw opponents off their game, enticed players to come here (Shoutout Trea Turner), and put Philadelphia back on the map as the best city to play for. All that matters is that the Phillies need to get there, and they’ve positioned themselves perfectly. Philadelphia…. It’s Time.