Fundamentally as a game, baseball has changed a lot over the years. It’s more analytical than ever, which has led to us seeing things we probably never expected. One thing that’s been front and center is Kyle Schwarber leadoff home runs.
Yea, I know — I wasn’t expecting Schwarber to be a leadoff hitter on a consistent basis either, but when it happens at the right time and everything clicks, it just works.
Prior to the 2021 season, Schwarber accumulated plate appearances as his squad’s leadoff hitter in five different seasons. Three of those years (2015, 2018, and 2020), the left-handed slugger racked up no more than eight plate appearances in that lineup spot. On the two other occasions (2017 and 2019), he racked up 173 and 253 plate appearances, respectively, but it didn’t necessarily lead to outrageously good results.
In 2017, Schwarber posted just a .693 OPS and an 84 wRC+ with seven home runs as the Chicago Cubs’ leadoff hitter. It was better in 2019, though, as his OPS went up to .825, along with a 106 wRC+ and 17 home runs.
With the Nationals in 2021, manager Dave Martinez plugged Schwarber into the leadoff spot in June, and it was suddenly magic. During a month in which he accumulated 116 plate appearances, Schwarber slashed .280/.362/.760 with 16 (!) homers and 30 RBI. Those 16 taters got dangerously close to Sammy Sosa‘s MLB record of 20 homers in a month, which he did in June of 1998 for the Cubs.
One record he did tie, though? The most leadoff home runs in a single month, as Schwarber’s June 2021 streak included seven to lead things off. MLB.com’s Jason Catania noticed what was happening when he hit his fifth, but then Schwarber proceeded to hit two more before the calendar flipped to July.
The magic continued beyond June, as he hit one for the Boston Red Sox after getting acquired by them in the middle of the season (and then again in the postseason). Most recently, he led off the Philadelphia Phillies’ season with a leadoff home run that got the blood pumping at Citizens Bank Park. That’s all led to this lovely stat:
He now has 9 leadoff homers since the start of 2021, most in MLB
— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) April 8, 2022
And just like that, “Kyle Schwarber, Leadoff Hitter” just doesn’t sound so crazy anymore. With this in mind, I thought it’d be fun to keep a running tally of all the leadoff Schwarb-bombs out there. They’ll be split up by team below.
Kyle Schwarber Home Runs To Lead Off Games
May 24, 2019 vs. Cincinnati Reds
This was Schwarber’s first career leadoff home run, and my goodness, it was one of his patented moonshots. I’m not sure if that thing has actually landed yet if we’re being honest. This was his only hit of the game, and the Cubs ended up losing the contest by a score of 6-5. During his time in Chicago, that seems to be a theme, so keep it in mind as we move on to the rest of these dingers.
May 29, 2019 vs. Houston Astros
This leadoff homer was Schwarber’s 10th of the season, and it accounted for half of the total runs the Cubs scored that night. Kris Bryant added a solo home run of his own to help Chicago win 2-1.
June 13, 2019 vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
Schwarber liked the first pitch from Clayton Kershaw so much that he decided to blast it over the wall by sending it to the deepest part of Dodger Stadium. This was part of a two-run first for Chicago, but they eventually lost to Los Angeles by a score of 7-3.
June 18, 2019 vs. Chicago White Sox
This was another oppo-taco blast from Schwarber, and it came on the first pitch he saw again, but this time at Wrigley Field and in the bottom of the first inning. Unfortunately for the Cubs, it was the only run they’d muster on this particular night, as the White Sox would come back and win 3-1.
Seems like there’s just something about Schwarber hitting leadoff in June that leads to lots of powerful moments.
June 27, 2019 vs. Braves
Yeaaa, there’s just something special about Schwarber hitting at the top of the order during the month of June. This was his third leadoff dinger in the span of two weeks, and his fifth in the span of approximately a month. The Cubs did end up beating the Braves in this matchup by a score of 9-7.
June 12, 2021 vs. San Francisco Giants
Vaunted leadoff slugger Kyle Schwarber launched his 10th HR of the season. It landed it the 2nd deck.
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 12, 2021
Interestingly enough, this was Schwarber’s first home run in June. That’s right — he didn’t hit his first June home run until the 12th day of the month, which was his ninth game played. This was part of a doubleheader the Nats played that day. Schwarber hit clean-up in the second game, didn’t hit a home run, and that was the last time he didn’t hit leadoff for the Nationals.
June 13, 2021 vs. San Francisco Giants
Raise your hand if you've hit a leadoff HR two days in a row…
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 13, 2021
Hitting leadoff home runs on consecutive days? Oh, yes — this will be a trend we’ll see a few more times here. This was part of a two-homer performance from the left fielder, and he was in the midst of hitting four homers in five games. That sounded impressive until he outdid himself later in the month.
June 19, 2021 vs. New York Mets
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 19, 2021
Schwarber absolutely tortured the Mets throughout 2021, and he did most of his work in June. After failing to hit a home run in the four games prior, the lefty slugger got right to work with the above leadoff homer. It was his first of two homers that game, and he didn’t stop there.
June 20, 2021 vs. New York Mets
We moved Kyle Schwarber to the leadoff spot on June 8.
In 13 games since, he's hit 7 HRs and 14 RBIs.
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 20, 2021
Schwarber not only collected another leadoff dinger on consecutive days, but this was the start of a three-homer performance, giving him five (!) long balls over the span of two days. Unsurprisingly, the Nats won both of those contests.
June 24, 2021 vs. Miami Marlins
This is Kyle Schwarber's 13th game hitting leadoff for the #Nats.
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 24, 2021
There was a short respite from tormenting the Mets, but the rest of the National League East obviously wasn’t safe. Schwarber’s leadoff tater here led to yet another Nats victory, as they got themselves back to an even .500 record with 36 wins and 36 losses following a slow start. Schwarber added a second homer later that night, giving him three multi-homer performances in the span of five games played.
June 28, 2021 vs. New York Mets
Here's your daily Kyle Schwarber June HR tally update:
June 12 – SCHWAR💣
June 13 – 2 SCHWAR💣s
June 14 – SCHWAR💣
June 19 – 2 SCHWAR💣s
June 20 – 3 SCHWAR💣s
June 23 – SCHWAR💣
June 24 – 2 SCHWAR💣s
June 25 – SCHWAR💣
June 28 – SCHWAR💣@kschwarb12 // #NATITUDE pic.twitter.com/3YUdqqSvwJ
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 28, 2021
Anyway, back to the Mets. This leadoff dinger wasn’t the only one of the night, either. Schwarber added another one to notch his fourth multi-homer performance over a nine-game span, and his fifth such game of the month. All in all, he appeared in 10 games against New York in 2021 and managed to rack up a ridiculous 1.610 OPS in that time.
June 29, 2021 vs. Tampa Bay Rays
Here's your daily Kyle Schwarber June HR tally update:
6/12 – SCHWAR💣
6/13 – 2 SCHWAR💣s
6/14 – SCHWAR💣
6/19 – 2 SCHWAR💣s
6/20 – 3 SCHWAR💣s
6/23 – SCHWAR💣
6/24 – 2 SCHWAR💣s
6/25 – SCHWAR💣
6/28 – 2 SCHWAR💣s
6/29 – SCHWAR💣@kschwarb12 // #NATITUDE pic.twitter.com/8MzZMA7UVO
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 29, 2021
What better way to end a historic month than with another leadoff home run? It was his seventh such dinger of June, and it was also the third time he’d done it on consecutive days. This ended up being his final home run as a member of the Nats, as he’d hit the injured list a few days later with a strained hamstring prior to getting traded to the Red Sox.
Boston Red Sox
September 3, 2021 vs. Cleveland Guardians
— Jamie Gatlin (@JamieGatlin17) September 3, 2021
This one was a little harder to find, but thank goodness for the internet. This dinger gave the Red Sox an early lead, and it was a game they’d eventually win 8-5. Schwarber was just getting warmed up here, as he finished the night with two hits and three RBI for Boston.
October 10, 2021 vs. Tampa Bay Rays
Leadoff Schwarb-bombs have become very fun, but they’re a little more fun in the postseason, don’t you think? This was part of a three-hit day for the slugger, as the Red Sox ended up winning the game in 13 innings before closing out the series the following night.
April 8, 2022 vs. Oakland Athletics
Is there a better way of announcing your arrival to a new club after signing a four-year, $79 million contract during the offseason? Probably not. This is Schwarber’s first leadoff home run as a member of the Phillies, but it definitely won’t be his last.
Whenever the left-handed slugger adds another leadoff dinger to his career tally mark, we’ll be sure to update this article.