The Phillies need Rhys Hoskins to return to his early-career form.
Rhys Hoskins has the potential to be the consistent middle-of-the-order, corner infield power threat the Phillies haven’t had since Ryan Howard — before his 2011 postseason injury. The issue? At times, Hoskins has struggled with his consistency and has recently dealt with injury — missing 19 games last season and later undergoing surgery for a torn ligament in his left elbow.
The Phillies need Hoskins’ big bat at the plate — as it should help them improve on their power marks from 2020 when the Phillies had the seventh-highest OPS (.781) and hit the 11th most home runs (82) in the majors. That sounds great until you consider that the division-rival Atlanta Braves and New York Mets were each ahead of Philadelphia in both marks, while the Washington Nationals finished a not-so-distant 10th in OPS (.769).
Recent reports indicate that Hoskins is healthy and will be ready to take the field on Opening Day. That is huge for the Phillies, as 2020 was a bit of a “mixed bag” for the soon-to-be 28-year-old first baseman. While some of his traditional stats, like batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage, were all big improvements from 2019, some of his analytics told a different story. For example, his WAR dipped to a career-low 0.9.
Looking for some signs of optimism? According to FanGraphs, Hoskins’ strikeout rate dipped from 24.5% in 2019 down to 23.2% in 2020. He also did that while having his highest exit velocity (90.1) since his rookie season (90.9). In addition, Hoskins increased his win probability added (WPA) from 0.08 in 2019 up to 0.48 last season. His batting average of balls in play (BABIP) was also up to .276 from 2019’s .267.
Some of these, admittedly, are marginal changes. However, they are all positive signs that Hoskins can get going in the right direction. He’s always done a solid job of getting on base, but if he can continue to cut down on his strikeouts while putting the ball in play, that could lead to great results for the Phillies.