Joining a new team can be scary — especially when the fan base is as raucous as Philadelphia’s. For Kyle Schwarber, it was just another day at the office.
After bouncing between 3 different clubs in 2 years (Cubs, Nationals and Red Sox), Schwarber inked a well-deserved 4 year/$79 million contract with the Phillies this offseason.
If there’s a textbook way to win over the new hometown fans — it’s to smack a home run in your first at bat. Easier said than done —sure— but that’s exactly what Kyle Schwarber did.
Since then, the Phillies’ unconventional leadoff hitter is just 1 for 9 with 2 walks. Not ideal, but like gambling — baseball is a game of ebbs and flows.
If we could chalk up a perfect bounce back spot for Kyle Schwarber, it would be against New York Mets pitcher Taijuan Walker — a matchup Schwarber historically dominates.
- In 11 prior Plate Appearances vs. Walker, Schwarber is 5 for 10 (0.500 AVG) with 1 Walk. Amazingly, all 5 hits were Home Runs.
- According to MLB Statcast, Schwarber’s quality of contact was strong enough to have even better results, as measured by his 0.615 expected batting average (xBA) vs. Walker, 115 points higher than his actual average.
- The same is true for his expected slugging percentage (xSLG), which was 2.311 on an expected-basis vs. 2.000 actual SLG.
Importantly, Schwarber’s success vs. Walker has been consistent.
- Before 2021, he was 1-2 with a Home Run and Walk in just 3 Plate Appearances.
- Last year, there was an uptick in Schwarber/Walker matchups, and the former took advantage. He went 4-8 (0.500 AVG), with all 4 hits being home runs.
- Amazingly, in his last 5 plate appearances, he’s 4-5 with 4 home runs vs. Walker.
The fact he’s 4-5 with 4 home runs in his last 5 at bats vs. Walker tells me Schwarber is a candidate for negative regression. However, I feel that’s offset by the idea he’s due for positive regression in the current campaign (remember, he’s 1-9 in his last 10 At Bats).
I also see a very favorable weather forecast for hitters today, with winds projected to blow 10+ MPH out to center field at Citizens Bank Park.
Lastly, I like how Schwarber is Philadelphia’s leadoff hitter. Even if he does regress a bit today, the fact he’s batting leadoff indicates a high probability he’ll get at least 3 At Bats vs. Taijuan Walker (assuming he’ll pitch into the 5th inning).
While backing his home run prop is tempting, I prefer the safer play which I see as Kyle Schwarber to record 2+ Total Bases. This would cash if he hits 2 singles or at least 1 double, triple or home run. Walks do not count towards total bases, which I see as the main risk since Schwarber walks a lot (his BB% is 90th percentile in MLB). At plus money odds, that’s a risk I’m willing to take.
I risked 0.75 units to win 0.9 at +120 odds via Caesars Sportsbook (line available at time of writing, subject to change).