Things haven’t always gone swimmingly for first baseman Rhys Hoskins in his young MLB career. After tearing up the minor leagues, the hard-hitting infielder took the league by storm as a rookie. En route to a fourth-place Rookie of the Year finish, Hoskins mashed 18 home runs and recorded 48 RBIs in just 50 games(!) in 2017.
Hoskins followed that up with a fairly productive campaign in his first full season. Though his .246 batting average left a lot to be desired, his 34 home runs and 96 RBIs both led the team and his 137 hits that year were also top three on the Phils.
At that time, it seemed as though the talented batter could do no wrong in the Phillies lineup and that the team had finally found a solution to the Ryan Howard-sized vacancy at first base.
That was until his production completely plummeted in 2019, however, as he endured a disastrous year at the plate. That season, Hoskins struggled mightily with plate vision, swinging at pitches he shouldn’t and taking strike calls right down broadway. Unable to find a rhythm at the plate, Hoskins recorded a putrid .226 batting average and struck out the ninth-most times (173 strikeouts) amongst all qualified batters.
Just as quickly as the allure of his potential had risen, it had seemingly vanished in an instant. Once the prized prospect tasked with turning the franchise around, Hoskins quickly deteriorated into a liability in the Phillies’ offense.
Although he did fare a bit better in 2020, he still wasn’t the driving force in the lineup the Phillies envisioned him being. Now, with few offseason additions made this winter, the Phillies will once again be relying on Hoskins to be an x-factor for the team– an expectation that has gotten increasingly risky since his rookie year.
With that being said, it is not completely out of the realm of possibility for Hoskins to help generate some wins in South Philly. Before an unfortunate UCL injury sustained in a September game against the Marlins sidelined him for the remainder of the season, Hoskins’ success at the plate had a direct correlation with that of the Phillies’ overall success.
In games where Hoskins hit a home run – he did so ten times in 2020 — the Phillies went 8-2. Additionally, they were 11-4 when the young slugger drove in at least one run.
In the 17 games following his injury, the Phillies offense dropped off considerably and the team went 5-12 during that stretch- finishing just one game shy of a postseason berth.
Needless to say, a bounce-back campaign from Rhys Hoskins would go a long way towards improving the Phillies’ playoff odds this season. Even if he doesn’t quite recapture the magic he exuded his rookie year, the Phillies are optimistic that Hoskins can, at the very least, provide some stability in the lineup and complement superstars Bryce Harper and J.T Realmuto.
He won’t have to be perfect, but the Phillies are banking on Hoskins being productive in 2021. Hopefully, Hoskins proves he is up to the challenge.
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire