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May 10, 2023

Don't worry, Kyle Schwarber and Trea Turner are second half players

Schwarber and Turner are struggling early, but there's plenty of reason to suspect they'll get better as the weather gets warmer.

The Phillies' offense is off to a very good start by almost every metric, even though the team is struggling to stay near .500.

And it makes sense. The pitching has been below average, though it is slowly improving. The hitting has been wildly inconsistent, but there has been production up and down the batting order through 36 games so far this season.

Philadelphia boasts a .266 batting average, the second-best in the NL (behind the Diamondbacks' .273 mark). Interestingly, only two everyday players on the roster are hitting below the team average, and they are two players with a track record for being everyday stars.

Kyle Schwarber — known for being a true outcomes (strikeout, walk, or home run) guy — is hitting just .185 this season. He does lead the Phils with eight homers, but he's generally been an easy out. The $300 million man Trea Turner is the other struggling hitter. At just .261 to start the year, he's rarely had a stretch of hitting worse than this.

Turner was absolutely incredible at the World Baseball Classic to start the year, where two teammates — Schwarber and J.T. Realmuto — also got significant at-bats. Realmuto has hit .361 over the Phils' last 10 games so he seems out of his early slump. The other two, however, are still mired in it. 

Is it related to the WBC? Via Ken Rosenthal at The Athletic:

Turner appeared in six of the seven official WBC games, Schwarber five, Realmuto four. Once they returned from the tournament, the Phillies had only four Grapefruit League games remaining.

Turner, who hit five homers in the WBC and started the regular season hot before falling into a slump, does not buy the theory that the tournament might have adversely affected him.

“I just suck,” he said Saturday, before going 2-for-5 and hitting his fourth home run against the Red Sox, improving his batting average from .257 and his OPS from .683. “I think everybody hits a wall, or goes through that little hump, at different times through the season.

“My body feels good. Nothing’s hurting. I do think the success in the WBC didn’t necessarily mean I was going to go crazy all year. I knew that. I’ve always been a slow starter. But right now, it’s been a little bit longer than I wanted to. It’s not fun creating a hole for yourself and digging out every year.” [The Athletic]

It's true. Turner has always been a slow starter, at least when compared to how he hits in the middle of the summer. Schwarber also has not played well historically in the springtime.

First half.222/.329/.480
Second half.250/.354/.523

Schwarber famously hits better when it gets warmer out. He has 47 career June homers and 43 career August homers. In the other months, he's hit 34 or less. Turner is relatively good during all months, but even better at the end of the season. His career batting average in August is .324, which is astronomically good for a sample size that large.

The Phillies will wrap up their two-game set against the Blue Jays before having a day off Thursday. They should create some serious offense in Colorado this weekend prior to facing the Giants in San Francisco. 

Unfortunately for Schwarber and Turner, those are two of the cooler places to play baseball in May. But when they return to Philly in two weeks it should feel like "hittin' season" outside. 

MORE: The Phillies need to fix their fifth starter problem

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