Even though there wasn’t exactly a clear role for him when JD Martinez didn’t opt out of the final year of his contract last winter, letting Schwarber go – especially since they didn’t make much of an effort to replace him – turned out to be a game-changer. In his first season with the Phillies, Schwarber led the National League with a career-high 46 home runs, helping his new team end the longest postseason drought in their league.
Schwarber struggled through the Wild Card series and NLDS, going 1-for-20 with eight strikeouts, but he turned it on in Game 1 of the NLCS on Tuesday night. In the sixth inning, Schwarber hit a home run harder and farther than he ever had in his career – not hyperbole – to cushion the 1-0 lead Bryce Harper had given the Fightins with a solo shot of his own.
Kyle Schwarber hits record-setting home run in Game 1 of NLCS
According to the Phillies communications department, it’s not only a personal best for Schwarber in terms of exit velocity and distance, but the hardest-hit postseason homer in the Statcast era. Schwarber’s 119.7 mph shot surpassed Giancarlo Stanton’s 118.3 mph homer in the 2020 ALDS. Schwarber’s homer traveled 488 feet, making it the second-farthest in the Statcast era behind his former Cubs teammate, Wilson Contreras, who hit a 491-footer in the 2017 NLCS.
Thanks to the pair of solo blasts and some incredible pitching, the Phillies took Game 1, 2-0.
After the game, Schwarber put on the headset and chatted with the FOX Sports analysts, including Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz. The latter half-joked that he wished Schwarber was still hitting bombs for the Red Sox:
"“I’m a little disappointed that you’re not in the Boston lineup this year, but I’ll get over it!”"
Boston is “a little disappointed,” too, Papi.
Schwarber wasn’t with the Sox for very long, but he’s exactly the kind of player fans here latch on to immediately. They acquired him from the Washington Nationals at the 2021 trade deadline and he impressed right off the bat, literally. And in the postseason, he made a difference. He homered in what was then a one-game winner-take-all Wild Card against the Yankees, then homered again in the ALDS, and hit a grand slam in the ALCS.
Not bringing back Schwarber isn’t the only reason the Sox didn’t make it to the postseason this year, far from it. But no one can deny that 40+ home runs would’ve vastly improved this team’s record and chances. Ortiz, who hit 483 regular-season homers and 17 October round-trippers for the Sox, knows exactly what kind of difference he’d make.
It’s not the first time Ortiz has shaded the Sox this year, but this half-joke is certainly more subtle than his public decree that it would be “stupid” of the Sox not to retain Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers. Who knew he could hit as hard with his words as he did with a bat?