The 2019 campaign was a disappointing one for Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins. Expectations were high for the twenty-six-year-old, especially after pairing him with Bryce Harper.
And while Hoskins started off the season in dramatic fashion – a grand slam on Opening Day – his season quickly went downhill from there. He finished 2019 batting .226/.364/.454 with 29 home runs, 85 RBI, 86 runs, and 173 strikeouts. He was able to combine those strikeouts with a career-high 116 walks, but it wasn’t enough to salvage his season.
Like Hoskins, the Phillies as a team also had a disappointing 2019 season. On May 31st, they were three games up on the Atlanta Braves for the division lead. By the end of June, they were 5.5 games behind Atlanta, and as the Phillies went through the dog days of summer, they continued to lose ground in the division race.
What’s ironic is the Phillies’ fall coincides almost perfectly with Hoskins’ fall.
Hoskins hit .276 in both April and May, also registering 12 home runs and 37 RBI. In June, right when the Phillies went into freefall mode, he hit only .226, despite decent power numbers. He then hit a measly .244 in July, .161 in August, and .170 in September. When the team needed him in the final two months of the season, he hit only six home runs and gathered just 17 RBIs.
Hoskins was in such a slump that former manager Gabe Kapler moved him to the leadoff spot for some inexplicable reason. Needless to say, that didn’t work, and the Phillies’ first baseman was visibly frustrated.
Now, all of this was going on while Harper was having the second-best season of his career, and J.T. Realmuto was having the best season of his career. Even though the two of them were single-handedly keeping the Phillies in the Wild Card race, Hoskins’ struggles were so pronounced that he was essentially dead weight to the team.
That begs the question – is Hoskins the most valuable player on the Phillies?
Notice I said most valuable, not the best. The “best” title clearly belongs to Harper, with Realmuto pulling in the number two spot.
But the most valuable is certainly up for debate. After all, the Phillies were in first with Hoskins on a roll and Harper/Realmuto struggling during April and May, and the exact opposite happened when their trends switched. If he can perform like he did in April and May for the entire 2020 season, the National League needs to watch out. Combining that performance with the likes of Harper and Realmuto gives the Phillies a very dangerous middle of the lineup.
New manager Joe Girardi, a guy who understands the game and knows how to get the most out of his players (he did manage some stars while he was with the New York Yankees), should also help Hoskins regain his form in 2020.
And, when he does, Hoskins can help carry the Phillies to the division title.
Featured Image: @2008Philz