The Philadelphia Phillies looked to have a bright future a mere three seasons ago. Heading into 2018, the Phillies had a strong core from their farm system that consisted of Aaron Nola, Rhys Hoskins, and Scott Kingery. During the 2017 season, Hoskins and Nola brought light to a dreaded rebuild year. Hoskins joined the team in August and was one of the best hitters in baseball. Nola was one of the few season-long bright spots as well, as he went 12-11 with an (at the time) career-low 3.54 ERA. Heading into the 2018 season, Kingery locked up a monster contract as well, solidifying himself as a future franchise piece.
The Phillies went through their own “process.” It was nowhere near as drastic (or successful) as the Sixers, but they have had their decade long playoff drought. However, after the signing of Bryce Harper, trade for J.T. Realmuto, release of Cesar Hernandez, and the signing of Zach Wheeler, the Phillies have evidently tried to close that rebuilding chapter. Despite these efforts, Hoskins and Kingery are producing at rates that are hanging onto the rebuilding clip, which is simply holding the team back.
Phillies’ Record Holder
In a two-week span in late August and early September, Hoskins broke a series of records for rookie production:
- By the end of August, the youngster became the fastest MLB hitter to have nine homers in 16 games.
- He furthered this the following day, as he became hit his 10th homerun in 17 games.
- Then, on the following day, he became the fastest player to hit 11 home runs and did so in only 18 games with 64 at-bats.
- In doing all this, he also tied a Phillies record by hitting a home run in five consecutive games.
- Hoskins recorded his 25th RBI in the second-fewest games since the statistic began being used in 1920. In the same game, he hit a double and became the third rookie in franchise history to have extra-base hits in six consecutive games.
- His 11 home runs in August were the most by a rookie in a month in Phillies history.
- He became the fastest player to hit 12 home runs, doing so in only 24 games.
- Hoskins was named the NL Rookie of the Month in August.
- Things did not stop at his bat either, as he was the first Phillies player to initiate a triple play from the outfield in 53 years.
Needless to say, Rhys Hoskins made his impression early for the Phillies. Unfortunately, the right-handed slugger has been on a decline ever since. After lighting up the league in 2017, Hoskins has become a shadow of his former hitting self.
His Phillies’ future
Look, it would be ignorant to sit here and say that power hitters aren’t streaky. Just like a pure goal scorer in hockey or a three-point shooter in basketball, guys who swing for the fences are going to have their up and down moments. Along with this, Hoskins was thrown into left field for some time, which probably didn’t help his confidence.
Needless to say, Hoskins is the first basement of the future. Unless someone came over in a trade, he is here to stay. There has been the possibility of packaging Hoskins in a deal for an infielder, which would move Alec Bohm to first base. Bohm, though, has been stellar defensively at the hot corner, which would make that a silly move.
Hoskins deserves to be on this team. He is frustrating- I get it. He has a batting average that fluctuates more than the stock market. But when he’s hot, he’s hot. He’s a walking machine, that also had the fifth-highest OBP and 10th best OPS (min. 20 games). Aside from the numbers, Hoskins has a personality that gleams both on and off the field. Unless they have the impossible chance to get an elite player, Hoskins is going to stay a Phillie beyond the 2021 season- no matter how bad he may slump.
Unlike his good buddy Rhys Hoskins, Kingery is on the opposite end of the spectrum here. Kingery’s career so far has been far from spectacular. Despite being one of the top prospects in their system a few years ago, the speedster just hasn’t been able to find his identity. He’s been told he’s going to be an everyday position player, yet has become a super-utility player.
Kingery also had a strong start to his MLB career. After hitting his first home run in his first career game, it only took ten days until he hit his first grand slam as well. However, since then, the 26-year-old has trended down as well.
After a decent rookie season, where he appeared in 147 games primarily as a shortstop, Kingery only appeared in 126 games in 2019 primarily as a super-utility player. Despite the decline in games, he had 16 more plate appearances, which he made the most of by increasing his average by 32 points. However, 2020 was detrimental to the youngster. After an offseason battle with COVID, Kingery only appeared in 36 of the team’s 60 games. In his appearances, he could only scrounge a .159 batting average.
His Phillies’ Future
Look, Kingery is young. After looking at some of the best players in the league, it’s no secret that many players find their groove by their third or fourth full season. Teammate Bryce Harper absolutely surged to a .330 batting average and league MVP in his fourth season. Mookie Betts became a consistent all-star after three full seasons. It took South Jersey native Mike Trout until his fourth full season to win his first MVP.
Okay, Kingery is not even close to any of those guys. However, the point stands- it takes some time for players to get acclimated to the big leagues. Unlike Hoskins, 2021 will truly be a make it or break it year for Kingery. With some solid infielder talent in the trenches already, he will need to come out swinging early and earn a position on this time. He’ll have a great opportunity to do so, as his super-utility ability allows him to play any position, as the shortened season will likely lead to more off days for his teammates. Kingery will have to battle for a consistent lineup spot in camp and early in the season.
The decision should be easy beyond this season. If Kingery can simply get back to his 2019 ways, he’ll serve a super important depth role for the team as they begin to grow. If he doesn’t, then he should be packaged in a trade for someone else. In that case, the change of scenery would be huge for #4. For the sake of the team’s success, let’s hope Kingery can turn things around in 2021. If not, we may never see him in red pinstripes again.
Avid Philly fan and future educator
Student at Stockton University