“Going to Indiana was the best thing that ever happened to me.”
Millions of baseball fans heard those words on ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” from one of IU’s most famous alumni.
That same alumnus is featured on the wall of the third-base dugout at Bart Kaufman Field, home of the Indiana baseball team. His name is synonymous with strength, power, versatility and — perhaps his most entertaining quality — home runs.
Every team he’s played for has found great success from his performances at the plate: the Chicago Cubs, the Washington Nationals, the Boston Red Sox, the Philadelphia Phillies and the Indiana Hoosiers.
Any self-respecting baseball fan knows it could only be Kyle Schwarber. Now in his eighth season in the big leagues, Schwarber was drafted fourth overall in the first round of the 2014 MLB draft to the Chicago Cubs. He made his major league debut just over a year later on June 16, 2015.
Since then, Schwarber has been a member of four major league clubs. Three of those teams probably regret letting him move on, and one — the Phillies — are probably very glad they picked him up. In the past two seasons, Schwarber, known in college for his hitting, has only solidified his reputation for the long ball as a pro. He hit more than 30 home runs in consecutive seasons and has put up some of his best statistics in the past three seasons.
In his eight years in Major League Baseball, Schwarber has hit a total of 182 home runs. In his rookie season with the Cubs, he hit 16 home runs, five of which came in the postseason. This season, Schwarber has gone yard 29 times in 90 games. He’s projected to hit around 52 home runs in the 162-game season. That would be 14 more than his current season-high of 38 in 2019.
This kind of performance from him is nothing new.
As a Hoosier, Schwarber primarily played as a catcher and began his legacy as one of the top power hitters in college. In his three years at Indiana, he received countless accolades, ranging from Big Ten Player of the Week to Perfect Game’s best catcher in the country in 2013.
Schwarber sits top ten in Indiana baseball history in just about every batting statistic there is. In 180 games played, he batted .341 and hit 40 home runs, the sixth most in program history.
His power-hitting was quickly picked up by MLB scouts in 2013 and 2014, during a time when most players’ home runs per game was at one of the lowest rates Division 1 baseball had seen since the 1970s. Schwarber was a shoo-in for the draft, touted as one of the best collegiate power hitters in the country.
While Schwarber debuted in the big leagues as a catcher, he didn’t remain in the position for long. He split his time in 2015 between catcher and outfielder and has since primarily played left field. Schwarber also saw time as a designated hitter and first baseman for the Cubs and Red Sox, respectively.
Schwarber was signed by the Nationals in 2021 to a one-year contract after an uncharacteristically dismal performance for the Cubs in the shortened 2020 season, batting .188 and only hitting 11 home runs. With the Nationals, Schwarber did what he has become known for all around the league: he went on a home run tear in June.
Schwarber rose to a new level — literally and figuratively.
During an 18-game span in June, he blasted 16 home runs. In 72 total games with the Nationals, he hit 25 home runs. At the end of July, Schwarber was traded to Boston, where he would remain for the rest of the 2021 season.
Schwarber was a key contributor for the Red Sox during his stint in Boston. He hit seven total home runs, colloquially known at that point as “Schwarbombs.”
June again proved to be Schwarber’s month in 2022, as he hit 12 home runs — the most of any MLB player that month — and earned NL Player of the Month honors for his performances at the plate.
With his propensity for slugging, it’s no surprise that Schwarber was able to add two more honors to his ever-growing list — becoming a member of both the 2022 Home Run Derby and the 2022 All Star Game. This was the second appearance in Schwarber’s career in both event, as he was runner-up in the 2018 Home Run Derby to Bryce Harper and played in the 2021 All Star Game.
Schwarber, the No. 1 seed in the 2022 derby, fell short of expectations and lost to home run legend Albert Pujols in the first round. He was unable to make a strong impression in the All Star Game, going 0-2 on Wednesday night.
Regardless, the facts, figures and performances that back up Kyle Schwarber and his successful baseball career add up to make a long list — a very long, very impressive list.
But imagine what would have happened if he never went to Indiana.