On Friday night in Cleveland, Kyle Schwarber made his first start at first base for the Red Sox. Schwarber looked a little clunky and maybe a little nervous to play the position, but the first game went off without a hitch. Throughout his career with the Cubs and earlier this year with the Nationals he was an outfielder. It will be interesting to see moving forward how much time he will get at first base, and how quickly he can adapt to his new role.
Kyle the On Base Machine
Since being traded to Boston from the Nationals, Schwarber has played mostly a mix of left field and designated hitter. After returning from his stint on the injured list (IL) Schwarber hasn’t missed a beat offensively. He was always known as a power hitter, but people always wonder what you’re going to get out of a guy who is returning from the IL.
Schwarber’s ability to work the count and get on base has mostly been on display so far. However, he’s still clubbed a few timely home runs to remind everyone why the Sox traded for him. In 14 games with the Red Sox, he has a .326 batting average with an on base percentage of .483 and has already drawn 14 walks. His two home runs and only three runs batted in might be disappointing so far for some. However, his lack of RBI’s is offset by his nine runs scored. The power will come, but right now he is still producing by making pitchers work, getting on base, and scoring runs. This is something this team has lacked for the past month.
In the Field
Who plays everyday and what will be huge down the stretch if this team not only wants to make the playoffs but make it far in the playoffs? Ideally, you’d like the Sox to have Verdugo, Hernandez, and Renfroe be the everyday outfielders. They have played great defense all year and all have made significant contributions with the stick this season. Ideally, you’d like to have J.D. Martinez be the everyday DH. Not a good fielder, but the type of guy you need in the lineup everyday if you want to make the playoffs. If Schwarber can make the right adjustment and learn first base and become a serviceable everyday first baseman then that is huge for the push to October.
The Playoff Race
We’ll just have to wait and see how Schwarber, and this team does down the stretch. The Red Sox currently hold the second wild card spot 2 games behind the Yankees and 2 games ahead of the Athletics. The offense needs to turn it around in September for the playoff race, and Schwarber will be a big contributor to that. It’s just a question of can he learn first base well enough in time, so we don’t have to play musical chair with all the position players.