Kyle Schwarber (WSH): 3-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
It’s time for us to talk about Kyle Schwarber.
His absurd June continues, as he went 3-5 with two homers yesterday to bring the Nationals to an even .500 on the year. That makes 15 round-trippers since June 12, including 11 in his last nine games (yes, seriously!). Despite a slow start to the season for Schwarber (COVID absence, new team, etc.), he’s quickly reinserted himself back into the home run race as he’s now up to 24 on the year.
So what’s happening here? Quite frankly, this is who Schwarber has always been. He’s always ranked near the top of the league in hitting the crap out of the ball, also known in academic circles by more formal metrics like Hard Hit % and max exit velocity. His strikeout and walk rates are relatively in line with career norms, even during this several-week stretch of dominance. If anything, his walk rate is slightly down on the season—probably because he’s too busy hitting bombs to take a walk. His OBP this season is almost exactly his career average, he’s just achieving it via base hits rather than bases on balls.
He’s actually looking awfully similar to his 2019 self, a season where he finished with a .250/.339/.531 slash line with 38 homers en route to a 121 wRC+. He’s closer to a 50-HR pace right now, but I’m hard-pressed to buy in on that. I think around 40 homers sounds about right. There’s nothing in his profile that suggests he’s doing anything particularly differently, he’s just seeing the ball really well right now and aggressively taking advantage (highest first-pitch swing % of his career). He’s basically giving a masterclass on how hot a hot streak can really get, but ultimately my instinct is that it’s just that—a streak.
Schwarber should of course be rostered, and if you’re in an OBP league, his plate discipline will slightly weather the impending cold slump that will happen at some point. Considering the leadoff experiment started right around when the home runs did, it seems likely he’ll stay in that spot for a while with his superior on-base skills. Ultimately, he’ll be a great source of power, OBP, and probably runs as long as he sticks in that spot in the order. You’ll just have to stomach the cold streaks along with the hot ones.
But boy, when he’s on, he’s on, huh?
Let’s see how the other hitters did Monday:
Avisaíl García (MIL): 3-5, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
It was a tie game late in Milwaukee—until the Brewers exploded for a ten-run eighth inning. García had already done most of his damage by that point, with a two-run single in the first and a solo homer in the third. It marks back-to-back 3-5 games with a homer, though he had the day off in between. This actually marks the first season García doesn’t rank in the top tenth percentile for max exit velocity, but he’s making up for it with the highest hard-hit and barrel rates of his career. In as weak a lineup as the Brewers’, he should continue batting around the cleanup spot which in combination with his power would provide a lot of RBI opportunities. I don’t think he’s anything to get excited about, but he’s worth rostering in most leagues.
Keston Hiura (MIL): 2-4, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, BB.
Is it time? Since returning from Triple-A, Hiura has been on fire. He has three homers in his last four games, and has put up a .353/.400/.941 slash line since making his return to the Brewers’ major league roster on June 23. If he’s still available in your league, now is the time to jump and take a flyer on him—we’ve all gotten a glimpse of what his ceiling looks like.
Jace Peterson (MIL): 3-4, 2B, 3 R, RBI, BB, SB.
It was a great game for Peterson, but this is essentially what his ceiling is. He’s never hit double-digit homers, even when he’s been an everyday player—which he currently isn’t, even in a rather brutal Milwaukee lineup. He’s got a nice walk rate but not a ton else to offer from a fantasy perspective.
Willy Adames (MIL): 2-5, HR, R, 3 RBI.
Sure, Trevor Megill was serving up BP for the Brewers in the eighth, but don’t totally discount Adames’ night. It’s now been over a month since his trade from the Rays, and Adames has done his best to make Tampa Bay regret their choice. Since joining Milwaukee, he’s slashing .286/.357/.516 with six homers, and clearly, the change of scenery has done wonders for him—he’s even striking out less. I wouldn’t necessarily sprint to the waiver wire—this is about his ceiling—but you could do a lot worse if you need a shortstop.
Hunter Renfroe (BOS): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
What a year it’s been for Renfroe. Not counting his 11-game first season, he’s got the best strikeout rate and highest AVG and OBP of his career. His trademark power is there but he’s sacrificed a bit of it to diversify his profile and it’s done wonders for his value. Of course, he did hit two homers last night, so it’s not like he isn’t still a slugger. I’m not sure he’s at the 10- or 12-team league level, but in a 15-team or 5-OF league, I think he should be on your radar.
Ian Happ (CHC): 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI, BB.
Every time Happ has a big game I get excited, thinking this is the sign that he’s getting back on track. And I’ll struggle not to do so today, but even with a great performance like last night’s I’m anxious about Happ. Unless there’s an injury we don’t know about, he’s lost his everyday role which of course drastically reduces his fantasy relevance. I still think there’s a lot to like about his profile (I was high on him coming into the season) but until he’s able to get going and earn his job back, I don’t think he’s particularly worth rostering in a standard 12-team league. Keep a close eye though—if you get even a whiff that he’s starting to get it together you should pounce.
Austin Hays (BAL): 3-5, HR, 3 R, 2 RBI.
Hays has stepped up his power a bit this year but unless he starts crushing the ball I don’t think there’s a whole lot of fantasy relevance here.
Cedric Mullins (BAL): 3-5, 2 R, 2 SB.
I’m going to be furious
if when Mullins gets snubbed from the All-Star voting. Quite simply, he’s been sensational this season—I feel like he’s been in my writeup every single week. He seems a lock for a 20/20 season at this point, along with a batting average over .300. It seems his offseason decision to focus on batting purely from the left has paid off, so to anybody who jumped on the Mullins train early, you’re probably feeling pretty smug right about now. He’s legit.
Nick Castellanos (CIN): 3-5, 2B, HR, 2 R, 7 RBI.
No, that’s not a typo—seven runs driven in for Castellanos as the Reds routed the Phillies. He finished a triple shy of the cycle and a pair of strikeouts. It feels like he’s finally put it all together in the way people have been waiting for, and with a .600 SLG that ceiling was pretty high. He’s a beast.
José Ramírez (CLE): 3-5, 2B, HR, 2 R, 5 RBI.
Awfully similar night to Castellanos. It’s incredibly frustrating he’s mired in that Cleveland lineup, but this guy is just great at hitting baseballs. It does seem like the stolen base has largely fallen out of his repertoire, but with his skill at the plate, it’s hard to get too angry at that.
Featured Image by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter)