Can Kyle Schwarber Keep Playing LF For The Phillies?
*UPDATE* No, he can not. The Phillies lost to the Braves yesterday, and a large reason for that was Schwarber’s awful defense in left. It’s Cristian Pache time.
Another day, another Philadelphia Phillies loss. The Phillies have lost 7 of their last 9 games, and are now in danger of getting swept by the Arizona Diamondbacks in a 3-game series at Citizens Bank Park. I really wish that there was positive content out there that I could write about for the Fightins, but unfortunately, there are not that many silver linings when it comes to baseball in Philadelphia right now. Trea Turner is struggling mightily, the starting pitching is inconsistent at best, and there are plenty of fringe issues to go along with the big ones. Without a lot of positives in Philly sports, sometimes our eye can be drawn to the fringe issues of the only team playing. And so, over this series against the Diamondbacks, my eye has been drawn to Kyle Schwarber and his defense in left field.
Again, this is not the biggest problem with the Phillies right now, but there have been a billion things said/written about Trea Turner, the Phils’ lack of clutch hitting, and the starting pitching woes. Kyle Schwarber has become a major problem in Left Field. Hey, in fairness, maybe he always has been, and last year’s NL leading 46 home runs covered up some poor defense. That being said, though, this year Schwarber’s deficiencies in the field really seem to be standing out. The numbers back up the eye test, unfortunately. Kyle Schwarber is currently tied for the 2nd worse player in all of baseball in Outs Above Average. He’s easily the worst LF in that stat, and what really is striking is that in a stat called Success Rate Added, which notes the estimated percentage of plays an average fielder would make and posts it against the actual percentage of those plays the fielder makes. Schwarber is an MLB worst -11%, which is 2% worse than any other player.
best and worst qualified outfielders this year according to statcast’s outs above average (oaa) stat pic.twitter.com/iyZ2uRLGc8
— Jay Cuda (@JayCuda) May 17, 2023
What does all of this say about Schwarber’s fielding? Well, Outs Above Average is a stat that is used to show how much better or worse a fielder is than his peers and the Phillies’ Left Fielder is as bad as it gets in baseball. On top of that, though, the Success Rate Added shows that not only is Schwarber not making big plays that save runs, but he’s also not making the plays that the average LF makes. It’s not going to be something that kills the Phillies this year by itself, but Schwarber’s defense has been strikingly bad. There’s only one clear solution, though, and it depends on Bryce Harper’s health. See, Schwarber leads the Phillies in homers and is on pace to hit nearly 40 this season. He’s impossible to take out of the lineup. But, of course, Bryce Harper also has to be in the lineup, and his Tommy John recovery means DH is the only possible spot for him right now. So, the only way to solve the Schwarber fielding problem is to wait for Harper to be healthy enough to play 1st, then you can move Schwarber to DH and put a better fielder in LF. Again, Schwarber’s defense is low on the priority list of issues to fix, but it’s another example of the things that are currently in less-than-ideal shape for your 2023 Philadelphia Phillies.