Gabe Kapler is bringing some modern thinking to the Phillies, which could extend to his lineup card on game day
Rhys Hoskins burst onto the scene for the Phillies and in 50 games produced some earthshattering numbers. Finishing fourth in the Rookie of the Year Hoskins projects to start in left field for the Phillies after the team signed veteran first baseman Carlos Santana to a three-year deal worth $60 million.
Hoskins appears to be a cornerstone of the Phillies next championship core with his raw power and ability to get on base. His 18 home runs were spectacular, but his 46/37 K/BB ratio was equally impressive for a player his age.
Manager Gabe Kapler praised Hoskins approach at the plate and how he can go from one of the most aggressive hitters in baseball to one of the smartest in a matter of pitches.
For that reason and more, it wouldn’t be surprising if Kapler gives Hoskins and opportunity to move up in the lineup.
Conventional baseball thought it that the player with the most power hits fourth in the lineup. A prime example is Ryan Howard, who hit fourth in 84% of his 6,531 major league plate appearances with Philadelphia.
New age managers have begun to stray away from having their big men hit clean up, with Chicago’s Joe Maddon being a prime example. Maddon opted to play reigning National League MVP Kris Bryant second in the Cubs lineup instead of the conventional four-hole. First baseman Anthony Rizzo hit leadoff 14 times last year with a .500 batting average and three home runs for Chicago.
For a Phillies team that isn’t expected to put up many runs it would only make sense for Kapler, a disciple of Maddon, to move his power guy up in the lineup. If Hoskins were to hit second behind a high on-base percentage player such as J.P. Crawford or Cesar Hernandez he’s just as likely to drive in a run than if he hit fourth.
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Hoskins hit into only two ground ball double plays last year, 10 fewer than Howard averaged in his career. His on-base percentage against starting pitchers in his first plate appearance of the game is .408 with an even K/BB ratio of 1.0, proving he’s likely to make something happen early in the game.
Giving Hoskins more opportunities to hit would also benefit the Phillies going forward. Hitting cleanup last year, Hoskins average 4.2 at-bats per game compared to Cesar Herandez averaging 4.6 at-bats per game as the leadoff hitter.
More at-bats mean more home runs and more wins for the Phillies. Given Kapler’s history with Maddon and his new age thinking, don’t be shocked if the opening day lineup isn’t what you expect.
This ain’t Charlie Manuel’s lineup card anymore.