All it took was a broken jaw to reignite the Phillies’ star slugger
Phillies fans and coaches couldn’t have predicted their top bat would go cold for a month, but that’s what happened to outfielder Rhys Hoskins in May. The budding star hit .346 with four home runs in his first 25 games and looked like an MVP candidate coming off a fourth-place finish for Rookie of the Year.
When the calendar turned, as did Hoskins’ bat and the Phillies offense with a miserable .151 batting average in 23 games through the month of May. Hoskins smacked just two home runs and five doubles while looking like a shell of himself.
Did the league catch up to him, did he hit a mental wall, or was the timing simply off on his swing?
Despite the slump, manager Gabe Kapler continuously hit Hoskins in the number two hole hoping he’d hit out of his slum. While nothing came about during the painful slump, Kapler stuck with his left fielder, who had zero multi-hit games in May.
Then came the foul ball in Los Angeles that caught Hoskins on the chin in the ninth inning down 5-4. Spitting blood, Hoskins would leave the game mid-at-bat to undergo scans, which originally showed no damage. Later scans would show a small jaw fracture that wouldn’t require surgery.
The whole episode in Los Angeles felt like the culmination of Hoskins’ slump, and perhaps it would lead to a day or two off to (finally) hit the mental reset button.
Since the accident on May 28, which included a short stint on the 10-day disabled list, Hoskins is hitting .343 with four home runs and three multi-hit games. He looks like the budding superstar of old, and the offense is slowly picking up where it left off early in the season.
Philadelphia is 8-2 this year and 17-9 since last year when Hoskins hits a home run. His presence in the lineup is vital for the future of this club, and he’s one of the few established cornerstones of a winning ball club.
Maybe all he needed was time off to hit the reset button and adjust his swing, but since that ball ricocheted off his face Hoskins has been the player of old the Phillies desperately need.