Kyle Schwarber didn’t hit his first home run this month until June 11, leading several people, including yours truly, to suggest that the arrival of June Schwarber was fashionably late.

However, what if we were all wrong and June Schwarber actually was unexpectedly early, and we just didn’t realize it until the calendar flipped to the expected month of his arrival?

Maybe it’s because since his arrival to the Phillies in 2022, we’ve come to equate the name “June Schwarber” with hitting home runs. And why not? His first summer with the Phillies he hit 12 of them in the month. All told, in 71 June games as a Phillie, Schwarber has 26 home runs. Extrapolate that out over 162 games and it would be the equivalent of 59 dingers, which, of course, would be a franchise record.

So, yeah, it’s easy to see why we associate the moniker with the long ball.

And yet, in 2024, that would be a misnomer.

Yes, Schwarber has clubbed six homers this month, and there are still eight games to go, so that number may rise. But this month, it’s not been about hitting dingers. In fact, this entire season it’s not been about hitting them for Schwarber. Yes, he still does, but he’s a more complete batter this season than maybe at any other point in his career.

And as such, he’s changing the profile of June Schwarber.

Take Saturday, for example, in a 12-1 drubbing of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Schwarber reached base four times and didn’t hit a homer. He was hit by a pitch, walked, and ripped two doubles to centerfield. On Friday, he laced a sharp single – to left field. When was the last time you saw Schwarber do that the opposite way?

After these two games, Schwarber has improved his June slash line this season to the following:

.304/.429/.623; 1.052 OPS; 21 H, 4 2B, 6HR, 14 RBI

And just to show how different that is from previous Junes, the month that turned him into a modern-day Paul Bunyan of baseball lore, his batting average is 47 points higher than his career in June (.257). His on base percentage is 70 points higher (,359 career), despite not hitting a homer until June 11 his slugging percentage is 29 points higher than his overall total for the month (.594) and his OPS is 100 points higher than his career (.952).

It’s because he’s a completely different hitter this season – and not just in June. He’s hitting .258 this season, last year, he was hitting .187 on the morning of June 23rd and we were still singing the praises of June Schwarber. The season before it was ,214. His current .382 on base percentage for the season is the highest of his career. He leads the N.L. in walks with 56, and trails only Juan Soto and Aaron Judge in all of baseball.

He’s a different hitter in 2024 than he’s really ever been. He’s no longer just a three-true-outcome guy. Sure, a lot of his plate appearances will still end in a walk, a strikeout, or a home run. In fact, 48.7% of them have this season.

But that number is low compared to previous seasons. Heck, here’s the percentage in the last two seasons alone with the Phillies:

  • 2022 – 49.6%
  • 2023 – 53.9%

That means he’s putting even more balls in play. But it’s not just that. He’s also getting hits. And by doing that, he’s driving in runs – and not just himself.

Normally, a good chunk of Schwarber’s RBIs are the result of him hitting homers, and therefore scoring himself. No one is complaining about that, but notice the difference in the percentage of his RBIs that were scoring himself or scoring his teammates, just since becoming a Phillie:

  • 2022 – 48.9% himself
  • 2023 – 45.2%
  • 2024 – 34.7%

That’s a big drop off, and in this instance, like golf, the lower the number the better – to a point. So far this season, Schwarber has found the sweet spot. He’s no longer a boom or bust hitter. He’s doing much more than that at the plate, and has redefined the leadoff role into one that could either take you deep, or work you to the point that he finds a way on base another way, setting the table for the bats behind him.

“Obviously there’s times when he goes up and there and wants to jump on a guy, we all know that,” said Bryce Harper. But he does a really good job of seeing all the pitches, get on base by walking or taking his chances when he knows he can. He’s been really good for us.”

Manager Rob Thomson agreed, but added in another little caveat.

“He’s been swinging the bat well and he’s been hitting left-handed pitching too, so that’s a plus,” the manager said.

With Schwarber leading off and Harper hitting third, the Phillies have been facing more lefties than usual against other teams. Whether that’s more lefty starters lined up, or teams are sending a slew of lefties out of the bullpen at them.

And Schwarber has demolished them like never before.

So far this season, 39.7% of Schwarber’s plate appearances have come against lefties. His slash line is .351/.456/.561 for a 1.017 OPS.

Since taking over as manager, Thomson has believed that the Phillies best lineup has Schwarber leading off. It’s been the most ridiculous argument in Philadelphia sports for more than two years.

But you don’t hear much about it anymore. Probably because Schwarber is doing enough of the things that “traditional” leadoff hitters do, while still being a threat to go deep every time he steps to the plate.

It just goes to show that we shouldn’t have been waiting for June Schwarber to arrive this year, because the guy’s been here since March 30th. We just didn’t see his new outfit.