The Big Fella, as he is fondly dubbed, is in need of a big season. Rhys Hoskins needs to be the proverbial key in Ben Franklin’s kite experiment and jolt some balls right outta the park.
This team and city need him to step up.
It is hard to be the starting first baseman in Philadelphia because you are always going to get compared to Ryan Howard. Before the “Big Piece” got hurt he was hitting at least 31 HR and over 100 RBIs every season. He did strike out a lot, but this is also a guy who was drawing a lot of walks as well as hitting .251 or higher for those years. This is something Rhys Hoskins needs to find some of this skill and luck in the coming season.
The Sacramento product has slashed .239 BA, .366 OBP, .495 SLG, 91 HR, and 269 BB over four seasons. Not a bad line at all, but these stats are compounded with 412 strikeouts which is not a comforting statistic. The Phillies’ hitting coaches have time and time again since his rookie year has messed with his hitting identity. He is a power-hitting first baseman who can also draw a walk if he needs to. Hoskins is a great player, but often gets hit by a pitch and injured. Rhys Hoskins needs to be more aggressive in his at-bats just as he was at the end of 2020.
So far this Spring, Hoskins is batting .212 with a .679 OPS. This is by no means stellar but Spring Training is a chance for players to try new things out in preparation for the upcoming season. However, Hoskins needs to provide better if not his best numbers this year. The people down at Baseball-Reference have already projected Hos to hit .236, 24 HR, 76 BB, and 124 strikeouts. Baseball-Reference is quite conservative with their Phillies stat projections for the 2021 season. It is understandable because he does not bat for average but this year he needs to start.
The Phillies need their first baseman to hit around .280 with 30+ HR and 90 RBIs.
This might sound impossible but Hoskins has the talent and ability to make this happen.
If he cannot perform somewhat close to this level the Phillies will be in the market for a new first baseman. The Phillies have Hoskins on team control for another couple of years so he has that much time to shape up or ship out. The Phillies will have plenty of other options for a first baseman at that point.
The Phillies re-signed JT Realmuto to a five-year contract and he might be better suited to playing first base during the latter half of his contract. This will mean the Phillies can save on first base and not have to resign Rhys Hoskins if he cannot perform over the next couple of seasons of team control. The backstop position will not be easily abandoned but taken up by Rafael Marchan and his backup could be Logan O’Hoppe which would be a great catching dynamic to see in the coming years. JT’s transition to first base in a couple of years has been suggested thought about due to the inconsistency of Rhys Hoskins’ career.
The lightning that can make or break this Phillies team this year is going to be Rhys Hoskins.
He is the missing piece of the Phillies’ playoff-hopeful run of this season. He needs to provide his best season yet in order to see the Fightin’ Phils in October baseball.
Whether or not “Rhys Lightning” can provide the spark for the statistics mentioned in this article is going to be up to him and luck.
Featured Image: Jose F. Moreno/The Philadelphia Inquirer