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Prairie grad Scott Schebler leads National League in home runs, and he's having a hard time believing it
CEDAR RAPIDS — He has more than Bryce Harper and Giancarlo Stanton, more than Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo.
In fact, no one has more than he does. When you ask him what goes through his mind when you point that out, he has a difficult time explaining.
It's as if he can't believe it. Perhaps he can't.
Scott Schebler, National League home run leader. Wow.
'That's just something you dream of,' the Cincinnati Reds outfielder said Thursday, after having a late lunch with teammates on a coveted day off. 'That's something you never think you'd see surface, you know? It's just really surreal. When I hear it, I have a hard time thinking it's real.'
Oh, it's real. The Cedar Rapids Prairie graduate went into Thursday with 16 homers, one more than Harper, Washington Nationals teammate Ryan Zimmerman and Justin Bour of the Miami Marlins.
Such a sweet swing by May 31, 2017
Such a sweet swing by @scheb08. #GreatScott pic.twitter.com/Mo947Ww2bY
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds)
He was one behind Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees for the major league lead. Schebler hit eight bombs in April and eight in May.
Do the math there. That's a 48-homer pace from a guy getting his first crack at an everyday job in the bigs.
'I think a lot of it has to do with just getting older and being around the game a little more,' Schebler said. 'I feel like I've prioritized my life a little bit, to where baseball's not really the only thing in my life anymore. That was a big thing for me. In the minor leagues, baseball was my life. Bad or good, I would definitely ride the highs and lows of baseball a little more.
'The lows I would just be totally upset the whole day, the whole night. I just kind of realized that's not really how I want to live my life.'
Don't take that the wrong way. The 26-year-old loves the game with his whole heart, has the desire to be the best he can be.
He just doesn't want an 0-for-4 night with three strikeouts to affect him too much in a negative way. You cannot live and die with each at-bat, each inning in a 162-game season.
He has learned that.
'If I get out, I'm still angry,' Schebler said. 'I just don't hold it as highly anymore, and I honestly think that's freed me up to just let my talent play (through) a little more. Don't let the mental grind of the game get to me.
'I don't want to get wrapped up in the world where this becomes my identity. My family is the most important thing. Family, faith ... It just kind of got to a point where I had to make a decision. It's such a long season, it wears you down so much. I had to learn how not to ride that up-and-down wave. Just finding ways to have other outlets, other ways that make you happy in life, that's just really helped me and freed me up to go out and have a free state of mind when I'm playing.'
.@scheb08's hardest-hit ball of the season and hardest-hit homer of his career (110.8 mph exit velocity). pic.twitter.com/xwhVeP7kpN
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds)
Schebler thanks Reds Manager Bryan Price for his early production as well. Price called him into his office in April when Schebler was really struggling and told him he believed in him, to relax, he was still going to be his right fielder.
A batting average that was as low as .153 on April 22 was .249 through Thursday. He is even hitting fellow lefties to the tune of .311.
The power numbers, obviously, speak for themselves.
'(Price) told me 'Hey, don't look over your shoulder,'' Schebler said. 'This is your job, you are going to be the everyday guy, we are going to give you an ample amount of opportunity. That just meant everything me because it's such a sample-size game that you press a little bit and you feel pressure. For him to do that, to have my back on that ... I think he knows what kind of person I am. It's a credit to him to pull me into his office like that and know that it would mean a lot to me, whereas maybe it wouldn't mean as much to other guys.'
Schebler has fit nicely into the six hole in a good Reds lineup that includes all-stars Joey Votto and Adam Duvall. He said he regularly picks the brain of Votto, in particular, taking advantage of playing with a guy considered one of the best hitters in the game.
Cincinnati is 24-28, four games behind Milwaukee in a compacted Central Division, though Schebler believes his club can make a push as its pitching, which has been injury plagued much of the season, returns to health. If you wondered, he said he doesn't get recognized when he's out and about in the city, which is fine by him.
That might just change if he keeps hitting bombs. He's sure to start getting some attention nationally as well.
'That is good, I guess, because that means you are doing well,' he said, with a laugh. 'But I'm not a big attention guy. There's got to be a balance there, I guess.'
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