The Philadelphia Phillies have yet to make a big move this offseason, other than the recent free-agent signing of right-handed reliever Archie Bradley.
If the trend continues, pressure could fall on current Phillies to step it up during the 2021 season. Here are three players who could use a breakout season to help drive team success.
3. Rhys Hoskins
If the Phillies cannot bring back J.T. Realmuto or Didi Gregorius — and do not sign a notable hitter, — the emphasis will be on Rhys Hoskins to have a career year on the offensive end.
Sure, the team will still have the star power of Bryce Harper, veteran presence of Andrew McCutchen, and the up-and-coming talent of Alec Bohm, but it’s Hoskins who remains a question mark in a prominent part of the lineup.
He’s been capable of driving in runs and drawing walks, but his averages could use serious improvement for someone batting near the top of the order. Since his first full season in 2018, Hoskins has posted batting averages of .246 (2018), .226 (2019), and .245 (2018) — with an overall career batting average of .239 in 404 games since August 2017.
Hoskins has shown the ability to hit consistently before. In 2017, he slashed .284/.385/.581 at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, after slashing .281/.377/.566 for Double-A Reading in 2016. His overall slash in four seasons in the minor-leagues was .287/.375/.532.
Despite the struggles at the major league level, Hoskins has shown that he can at least hit the ball far. In 2018, his 34 home runs and 96 RBI ranked seventh and 10th in the National League (NL). The following year, his 29 home runs and 85 RBI were second-most on the Phillies — albeit further down the NL leaderboard, but still respectable. Hoskins recorded only 10 home runs and 26 RBI last year, which could be in part because of an injury-shortened campaign in what was already a shortened season — where he played in 41 of 60 games.
He’s also shown the ability to draw walks, ranking seventh in the NL in 2018, with 87 walks, and leading the NL in 2019, with 116 walks. Given his reduced playing time, he walked only 29 times last season.
Rhys Hoskins has first base competition in the National League East.
As the Phillies’ divisional competition continues to improve, the team has expressed concern over payroll during pandemic times and has yet to make a major offseason move. Looking at first base alone in the National League East, Hoskins’ counterparts are Freddie Freeman (Atlanta Braves), Jesus Aguilar (Miami Marlins), Pete Alonso (New York Mets), and Josh Bell (Washington Nationals).
Hoskins has shown moments of brilliance before and a breakout season would be huge — not only for his career but for his team’s chances this season.