Coming off their 2022 National League Champion season, the Philadelphia Phillies had a lot of good vibes going as they returned to Clearwater last February.
Bryce Harper was showing positive signs of recovering from his Tommy John Surgery and the Phillies had some fresh additions joining the team in Trea Turner, Taijuan Walker, and Craig Kimbrel. But then, the first sour note of the 2023 season rang loudly as Rhys Hoskins went down with a torn ACL.
As the Phillies joined the rest of Major League Baseball on Opening Day, Hoskins went under the microscope. Surgery to repair the ACL is a slow burn in terms of recovery, taking approximately seven to nine months.
Here we stand, five-and-a-half months later, and instead of Darick Hall seeing a lot of the action at first base, Bryce Harper has shared a lot of the load as his arm returns to full strength.
With the Phillies now sitting weeks away from waging their second straight postseason campaign, the jury is still out as to whether Hoskins will be able to join his teammates in the war for the World Series.
What are the odds of a Postseason Appearance for Hoskins?
There are a lot of unknowns that come into play regarding Hoskins making any potential appearance for the Phillies in Red October. Let’s start with what we know:
A traditional recovery for ACL reparation is, as previously mentioned, a seven to nine-month process. For perspective, Game 4 of the World Series would be the seven-month mark for Hoskins.
Fellow Phillies slugger Kyle Schwarber did return in time from his torn ACL to help the Chicago Cubs win the World Series seven years ago.
Recently, Rhys has been swinging off of a tee but has yet to take batting practice. He is primarily regaining strength right now.
There has been little word, however, as to if Hoskins has been getting any work in around the diamond, either fielding, throwing, or baserunning.
Hoskins won’t be able to circumvent his recovery time like Harper was able to by coming in as the designated hitter. If Hoskins can’t run to first at full speed, he will be a liability.
And he knows it.
“You have to be able to be yourself. You have to be able to go out there and be who you are as a baseball player, to be able to do the things that you know you can do to impact the game. Or you’re hurting the team. You’re probably hurting yourself as well. If I can’t be myself, I don’t want to put the other 10 or 12 guys who show up in a game in that position to not win a game. That’s not what I’m trying to do.”Rhys Hoskins, per Matt Gelb (The Athletic)
So Hoskins will not return to the Phillies unless he believes he can be an asset to the Phillies. But perhaps there is one role that Hoskins could fill if he returns…
If Hoskins returns to the Phillies during the postseason, it would likely occur later on in the playoffs.
So, let’s say he returns in the NLCS, what would his role be? The Phillies aren’t just going to throw someone in who has had zero rehab games and very little practice in as a starting first baseman that deep into the playoffs.
The Phillies currently lack any type of power from a bench bat. Assuming a standard lineup with Harper at first and Alec Bohm at third base, Edmundo Sosa has the most home runs of anyone on the Phillies’ bench with nine. Because, after all, Edmundo Sosa is known for his power.
In 2008, the Phillies had the threat of pinch-hitting Matt Stairs at any time they would like to strike fear into the opposing team’s pitcher. While not the same build, Hoskins hit six home runs in 17 postseason games last year.
If he is healthy, his bat could become a late-inning X-factor. Especially given manager Rob Thomson’s proclivity for playing the lefty-righty matchup game.
Who knows, maybe a bat spike part two could be in the works for Hoskins? Both Hoskins and the Atlanta Braves could use another bat spike, it might be the best thing that happened to both last year.
Regardless, Hoskins needs to focus on healing and strengthening back up right now. The Phillies, meanwhile, need to focus on getting far enough where this scenario could be a reality.
Photo Credit: (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)