Grading Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins’ 2020 season
Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins was good in 2020. You might not have noticed because he got off to a dismal start, hitting only .172 in his first 10 games.
Or, you might not have noticed because his season ended on an equally disappointing note. He hit a measly .186 over his final 10 games, before missing the final weeks of the season with a shoulder injury.
Or, you might not have noticed because, for the first time since 2011, the Phillies actually had an above-average offense. With strong offensive years from Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Alec Bohm and Didi Gregorius, it’s not surprising that Hoskins’ performance slipped under the radar.
I know, I know, I’m not painting a very positive picture. Injured for ⅓ of the season? Downright bad for another ⅓? Overshadowed by other hitters on his own team? That doesn’t sound great.
But here’s where it gets fun.
For 22 games in the middle of the season, Hoskins hit like Barry Bonds.
Compare these two mystery players for a moment:
- Player A slashed .298/.444/.607 and averaged a home run every 16.5 PA.
- Player B slashed .321/.440/.679 and averaged a home run every 14.3 PA.
Player A is Bonds, over his entire career. Player B is Hoskins from August 9 to September 3.
Just to be clear, I’m not trying to say that Hoskins is anywhere near as good as Bonds. I know the difference between a 22-year career and a 22-game sample.
My point is that Hoskins was so good over that stretch of games that it makes up for his poor start and finish to the season. Over Hoskins’ hot surge, the Phillies went 14-8, good for a .636 winning percentage. Remember that blissful period of the season when the Phillies won 10 out of 11 games? We have Hoskins to thank for that.
If you look at his overall batting line, 2020 was Hoskins’ best season since the 50 games he played as a rookie in 2017. He finished 2020 with a .245/.384/.503 batting line and 10 HR (that would put him on pace for 39 HR in a full season.)
His wRC+ was 139, meaning that Hoskins created runs at a rate of 39% better than league average. That’s very good. If Hoskins had enough PA to qualify, that number would have placed him in the top 20 in the NL and 4th among NL first basemen.
Even though his season had its ups and downs, it ultimately averaged out to a very solid offensive year. It seems like that’s just who Hoskins is — a streaky hitter. It’s been the case for his entire career, and I’ll be the first one to say that his cold streaks can be maddening.
But as long as he’s this good when he’s hot? I’ll take it.
Hoskins put up his best offensive numbers since 2017, and he carried this team through one of their best stretches in years.
That said, Hoskins was outplayed by four hitters on his own team (Harper, Realmuto, Gregorius, and Bohm) and his injury cost him a significant amount of playing time.
All statistics courtesy of Fangraphs.