Phillies: Is Rhys Hoskins Philadelphia’s best MVP candidate?

PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 08: Philadelphia Phillies First Baseman Rhys Hoskins (17) signals to the crowd after hitting a home run during the sixth inning of the game between the Washington Nationals and the Philadelphia Phillies on April 8, 2019, at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 08: Philadelphia Phillies First Baseman Rhys Hoskins (17) signals to the crowd after hitting a home run during the sixth inning of the game between the Washington Nationals and the Philadelphia Phillies on April 8, 2019, at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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With a hot start to the season, is Rhys Hoskins the player with the best chances to win the Most Valuable Player award on the Phillies?

The Phillies added two former MVPs this offseason and one, Bryce Harper, still has the potential to win the award again. J.T. Realmuto, another offseason addition, has the upside of an MVP candidate if his offense takes off in his new home stadium.

However, maybe we should have been looking at the players on the roster for the team’s best MVP candidate, more specifically at the man who is standing at first base, Rhys Hoskins.

Hoskins was the team’s best position player last year, hitting 34 home runs, driving in 96 runs, and sporting a .246/.354/.496 line in 153 games. He was worth 2.9 Fangraphs wins above replacement (fWAR), tops among the club’s position players.

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So far during this very young season, Hoskins is making the case that he should be the one garnering MVP attention. Through nine games, he has a team-leading ten runs scored, 15 runs batted in, five home runs, .367 batting average, .933 slugging percentage, and 1.446 OPS. He also ranks second with a .513 on-base percentage.

Not only is Hoskins one of the best hitters on the team, but he is also one of the best hitters in the National League.

Among qualified hitters, Hoskins ranks second in slugging percentage, home runs, RBI, OPS, and wRC+, third in on-base percentage, fourth in fWAR, and ninth in batting average.

While it’s doubtful can keep his rate statistics this high all season long, he is well on his way to finishing the season among the leaders in the counting stats. If his OPS can jump to around .900 or so this year, he has an excellent chance of garnering MVP votes.

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Three factors should boost Hoskins’ ability to win MVP: defense, RBI opportunities, and playoff contention. Now that Hoskins is back at first base, he won’t have abhorrent defense dragging down his wins above replacement total. This a critical metric many voters, especially the younger ones, use to distinguish who should win the award. Having even average first base defense should boost Hoskins here considerably.

Also, Hoskins should easily clear 100 runs batted in this year after having 96 last season. The hitters ahead of him get on base much more often, providing more opportunities for him to bring runners home.

Javier Baez, who finished second in MVP voting last year, led the NL with 111 RBI. If Hoskins gets around that many and leads the league in RBI, he will be a serious contender.

Finally, if the Phillies can claim the NL East crown and one of the best records in the NL, voters will look at who spearheaded that success. Manager Gabe Kapler called Hoskins the “heartbeat” of this team, indicating they will go as far as Hoskins can take them. Team success (for better or for worse) does play a significant role in MVP voting.

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If Hoskins can remain one of the better-ranking hitters in the NL, he should have a strong case for the MVP award.