There are power surges, and then there is whatever has gotten into Kyle Schwarber over the last few weeks. The Nationals’ outfielder has slugged 15 home runs over his last 17 games, tying Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa for the most long balls over any 17-game stretch in MLB history. He’s already broken Washington’s franchise record for the most home runs in a month and there are still two days to go.
After hitting two more homers in Monday’s 8-4 win over the New York Mets, Schwarber said on a Zoom call that he’s not trying to think about it too much.
“To be honest with you, I want to play stupid,” Schwarber said. “That’s kind of the best way to describe it — just keep going up there and take your at-bat. Don’t remember the one before, just live in the present…I think that’s the biggest thing, is just go out there and have a short memory.”
Schwarber’s recent run has raised his OPS on the season to .906. That’s 59 points higher than the OPS of Trea Turner, who owns the Nationals’ second-best mark among qualified hitters. He’s also pushed his home run total to 24, putting him only two home runs behind Shohei Ohtani and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the MLB lead. In the NL, Fernando Tatís Jr. (25) has more.
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Schwarber’s tear is the fact that he’s hit all of the homers from the leadoff spot. Nationals manager Davey Martinez moved Schwarber to the top of the order June 12 and he’s played all but one game there ever since. Five of his home runs have come in his first at-bat.
“It really has been an incredible run,” Martinez said prior to Tuesday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays. “Every day I tell him, ‘Hey, just stay within yourself. Don’t start trying to go up there and try and hit home runs. Just try and hit the ball hard. You got enough power to hit the ball out anywhere.’”