The Phillies 29-year-old first baseman has had his fair share of scrutiny over his tenure with the organization. Yes, his defense is poor, his cold streaks are infuriating, and he will never live up to the expectations that were set on him when he hit 18 home runs in his first 35 games. But Rhys Hoskins, one of the few remaining homegrown pieces the Phillies got out of their rebuild, is this team’s heartbeat. Now, with Bryce Harper out for an extended period of time, the value he brings to the lineup becomes all the more important.
Fresh off winning National League Player of the Week, Rhys Hoskins enters Saturday with an OPS of .834 coupled with 17 home runs and 42 RBIs. On the season, he ranks in the top five among National League first baseman in runs, walks, and home runs. Compared to the rest of the league, he ranks in the 78th percentile in xwOBA and the 79th percentile in Barrel %. For reference, Freddie Freeman’s Barrel % this year is in the 67th percentile.
Hoskins could very well be playing himself into a contract extension with one more year left of control. The way he plays moving forward––without Bryce Harper in the middle of the order––could convince President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski that Hoskins is worth making an offer to this offseason. With a slash line of .298/.411/.612 since June 1, Hoskins is making a compelling argument. If he can sustain just a fraction of his recent success and get the Phillies back to October baseball, a contract extension would be a no-brainer.
However, it’s not just his play that should be considered when evaluating Hoskins’ future in the organization. This season, we are seeing something different from the slugger––something statistics cannot put a value on. Remember when Hoskins slammed and threw a trash can after grounding into a crucial double play on May 22 against the Dodgers? He’s feeling a sense of urgency––one that’s created after 10 long years of playoff-less baseball. Hoskins knows it’s time to win, and we’re now seeing the emotion from a team leader needed to make winning a reality.
This isn’t to say Rhys Hoskins is having an All-Star season. In fact, he may never play in the mid-summer classic. But, Hoskins’ value to the lineup is not something that can easily be replaced through a trade or simply by sliding Alec Bohm over to first if the Phillies were to lose Hoskins to free agency in 2024. The Phillies need Rhys Hoskins––now, more than ever without the MVP in the lineup.
Photo: Scott Kane/Getty Images