Kyle Schwarber's mentality at the plate can best be described as "grip it and rip it." The man does not get cheated, that's for sure. That has led to prodigious home runs, both in volume and distance, prodigious numbers of strikeouts and one of the wildest seasons in major league history.
Schwarber is hitting .198 for the Philadelphia Phillies, and yet he has already scored 104 runs and driven in 100. On Friday night he became just the fifth player in 2023 to reach the century mark in both categories. With 45 home runs, he's the first player with consecutive 45-home run seasons since Ryan Howard did it four straight times from 2006 to 2009.
Still, that number pops out on his stat line, too glaring to ignore: .198. With an MLB-leading 207 strikeouts to go with it. You've probably seen one of those Internet memes pointing out Tony Gwynn struck out 188 times in the entire decade of the 1990s. For those who love to bemoan the state of the modern game -- with its emphasis on the "three true outcomes" of home runs, walks and strikeouts -- Schwarber and his .198 average represent everything that has gone wrong, and Gwynn will forever represent what was once right with baseball (as if there were a bunch of other Gwynn clones in his time).
Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Max Muncy is having a similar season to Schwarber's. He's hitting .211 with 102 RBIs, making him the player with the third-lowest batting average ever to knock in 100 runs. With 90 runs, he'll score close to 100 as well, which reminds me of something Jim Thome once told me: "I'm slow, so I know I've had a good season if I score 100 runs." Yet I've also seen Dodgers fans incessantly complaining about Muncy -- usually after he strikes out with Freddie Freeman on second base after one of Freeman's many doubles.
These unique seasons lead to this question: How good can you be if you're hitting .200 -- or below?