It would’ve been easy for Rhys Hoskins to get lost in the shadows of the Philadelphia Phillies newest additions. Four all-stars, which includes a $330 million Bryce Harper. There have been times this season where each of those four have taken the spotlight, but now they are standing behind the giant MVP shadow of Rhys Hoskins.
Rhys Lightning is starting to rake again. Six straight games with a hit and three home runs. pic.twitter.com/Nph0te2kMb
— Jon Jansen (@jjansen34) May 4, 2019
Since the calendar turned over to the month of May, Rhys Hoskins has turned into an MVP candidate. The Phillies first baseman now has 11 home runs and 32 RBI with a slash line of .295/.420/.636. We’ve seen Hoskins go through weeks where he performs at a very high level. What we don’t know about is the kind of player Hoskins truly is.
Hoskins burst onto the national scene in 2017 when he hit 18 home runs in just 50 games and it essentially came out of nowhere. When he was called up in 2017 it was expected for Hoskins to have some power, but not the kind of power that results in 18 home runs in such a short amount of time. Another projection when he was called up was his batting average hovering just around .250, which held true.
In his rookie campaign Hoskins batting average finished at .259 for the season, not bad for a rookie. The sophomore season however he regressed. His average dipped down to a .246 and his OBP downgraded as well. The then outfielder showed that he had home run potential in his bat, mashing 34 home runs. In 2019 though, things are very different.
Looking at what Hoskins has been and then seeing the numbers he currently holds is quite a large difference. Of course, it is still May and the numbers could eventually revert back to what they have been. So, what kind of player is Rhys Hoskins? A .290 hitter or will he continue to closer to a .250 average where he has been for the first two seasons of his career.
Some of the underlying numbers suggest that not much has changed for the Phillies slugger. His groundball/flyball ratio lies between his 2017 and 2018 seasons, he is still being patient at the plate, but also striking out at a higher percentage than he has his previous two seasons. There are however a few things that standout. Hoskins hard contact percentage is up 11.5% over last season. He is having more success against sliders in 2019. Also, he is pulling balls at a higher rate than he ever has. Dating back to his minor league days, Hoskins never had a season where he pulled over 50% over his hits. Last season he finished at 50% and right now he is at 57.5%.
What do I see when looking at those numbers? Well, most of the numbers look the same. It is nice to see the hard contact percentage upgraded this season, but there is nothing else that leads me to believe that he has significantly improved in any area. I do think it is a good assumption that after 850+ at bats, Hoskins may just be smarter at the plate and seeing the ball better.
Looking away from the numbers, I can’t help but think of something I would hear former General Manager, now SiriusXM host, Jim Bowden say about evaluating a hitter. It isn’t a particular stat or how good the underlying numbers were. It was very simple. Just trust the swing. If the mechanics are good and the swing looks good, trust it. There’s a lot to like about Hoskins stroke. It has been effective against many different kinds of pitches, whether that be up or down in the zone, a blazing fastball or something a bit softer.
This is great stuff!
Rhys Hoskins breaks down the mechanics of his swing pic.twitter.com/rScFUI9PZZ
— Baseball Bros (@BaseballBros) March 20, 2019
“It really looks effortless.”
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) August 23, 2018
One thing that is for certain, the tools are there. Hoskins has proven at times that he can be a great hitter. Maybe this is the season Hoskins takes the jump to an MVP-type hitter. The numbers don’t back up that theory, but I think we may just have to trust the sweet swing of Hoskins to continue to perform above expectations.