Red Sox

How Kyle Schwarber helped Bobby Dalbec’s Red Sox resurgence

Instead of taking over Dalbec's spot at first base, Schwarber actually helped the rookie play his best baseball at the right time for the Red Sox.

Red Sox Kyle Schwarber Bobby Dalbec
Kyle Schwarber celebrates his home run with Bobby Dalbec (29) during Tuesday's Red Sox game. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
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Regardless of how this season turns out for the Red Sox or what people wish they’d done at the trade deadline instead, the acquisition of Kyle Schwarber for the stretch run looks like a win.

For one thing, he’s done exactly what the Sox hoped for at the plate. Heading into Wednesday’s action, he has a .295/.423/.964 slash line with seven home runs and 18 RBI in the 36 games he’s played in Boston.

But though he’s only played seven games at first base with his new team, you could say he’s had a major impact at that position as well.

How? By helping rookie first baseman Bobby Dalbec get the best out of himself.

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A new report from The Athletic’s Jen McCaffery details how some lessons in early August from the newly acquired Schwarber played a key role in breaking Dalbec’s season-long funk.

Schwarber, while still recovering from the hamstring injury that delayed his Red Sox debut, “meticulously worked with Dalbec” before a game against the Detroit Tigers, McCaffery writes, breaking down everything from his swing to his approach at the plate.

“Bobby really kind of reminded me of myself, just from the right side,” Schwarber said, according to McCaffery. “In terms of the swing, the body and things like that. It was kind of an easy conversation to have, he’s such a baseball rat, he wants to have those conversations so we got to talking. It was easier for me too, I came in and was hurt, wasn’t playing and was able to sit down and watch some things and then gradually work your way into a conversation.”

“Just a mix of things, swing, helping me get through the ball more, trying to feel like I have a deeper point of contact which actually allows me to pull the ball more instead of trying to force it out there,” Dalbec said of his work with Schwarber. “So he was big for me.”

The turnaround has been arguably the most astounding thing in an otherwise tumultuous second half of the Red Sox’ season.

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Dalbec, who was statistically one of the worst players in baseball heading into July, has become one of the team’s best players since August 1, hitting .298/.383/1.077 with 13 home runs, 37 RBI and a massive 181 wRC+. He’s also boosted his walk rate to over 10 percent in that time — it had been 4.4 percent before the trade deadline — and dropped his strikeout rate from 37.5 percent to 28.9.

And in the meantime, Dalbec has shared what he’s learned with Schwarber about playing first base — a position the former Chicago Cub had never played in the big leagues before this season.

And while Dalbec had limited experience at first, his familiarity there still exceeded Schwarber’s, seeing as the veteran had never started a game at the spot in his professional career.

“Trust me, Bobby has been a big help to me with trying to learn the position over there,” Schwarber said.

Dalbec noted he didn’t treat Schwarber’s addition as a competition, saying “it’s not about me, it’s about the team” and admitting he didn’t play well enough to “deserve” the everyday job at first base before Schwarber came.

Now, the Red Sox can scarcely take him, or Schwarber, out the lineup.

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Though Boston’s season still hangs in the balance as the team fights for the final AL wild card spot, no one can deny these two players at least have done their part to keep them in the hunt.

For Dalbec in particular, a strong finish to the season could be a gift that keeps on giving in the future. If that’s how it turns out, the Sox’ addition of Schwarber at the trade deadline might be part of that lore for years to come.

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