Rhys Hoskins started out 2021 with a hot bat, but something noticeable has been missing. Is Hoskins still the same player?
As pointed out by Philly Sports Network contributor Jayln Smoot, the Phillies’ first baseman, Rhys Hoskins, has started the season in a solid way. Since that piece has been out, Hoskins has cooled a bit. His batting average still sits at .262, and his slugging percentage sits at .548.
Wellllllllllll, Hoskins’ last five games have not been kind. He has just a lone hit, a home run, in 18 at-bats. That’s a .056 batting average. A five-game rough patch isn’t something to panic about, although Hoskins’ start to the season does bring up a huge concern for the first baseman.
The On-Base Machine?
Since his second season, Rhys Hoskins has been a controversial figure among Phillies fans. The older fan base sees a player that hits .250-.260 at best and freaks out about every pitch he takes. More analytically driven fans will see an on-base machine with 30-home run power. With wide-ranging opinions, Hoskins is seen as somewhere between a top-ten first baseman and a scrub that needs to be replaced.
The divide derives itself from the opinion around one stat: On Base Percentage. Essentially, it comes down to how people view walks. From 2018-2020, Rhys Hoskins is only second to Bryce Harper in walks. Overall, Hoskins has the fifth most free passes in that span of time (232).
Thanks to all the walks, Hoskins’ career OBP sits at .362. He’s on base 36% of the time. Hoskins’ best tool is his eye, being able to get on base.
What’s the problem with Rhys Hoskins?
In fact, he has just one walk in his last 67 plate appearances spanning back to last season. He finished the last five games of 2020 without a walk and started the first nine games of 2021 without a walk. That’s a 14-game stretch without a walk.
For perspective, Hoskins’ longest stretch without a walk in his career before this was six games in 2018. He more than doubled that between 2020 and 2021. If Hoskins has lost his ability to get on base (his best tool), then he’s only left with above-average power. One above-average tool does not make a player good.
On top of that, Hoskins currently has the highest strikeout rate in his career. In 2021, he’s striking out 32.6% of the time. That’s 8.1% higher than his career-high of 24.5% in 2018.
Now, we’re not even a tenth of the way into the season, so there’s no reason to smash the panic button. Hoskins is doing some things very well to start the season. He’s in the 96th percentile of hard-hit percentage and the 81st percentile of average exit velocity.
The fact that Hoskins sits in the 8th percentile of BB% and 16th percentile of K% should be concerning, nonetheless.