Tommy Joseph has played 104 games this season, starting 99 of those games. Last year, Joseph played a total of 107 games. His slash line is almost identical, .249/.307/.440 so far in 2017, compared to .257/.308/.505 in 2016.
The first baseman has already eclipsed his RBI total from last year, and with roughly two months left to go, he’s just five home runs away from tying last year’s mark of 21. All OK numbers, and that’s about all Joseph is.
Joseph doesn’t add value to a team by doing anything special. He’s hitting only .249 career against lefties, hits .240 with runners in scoring position over his career, and is less than impressive defensively at first base. Joseph’s career WAR is 0.1, which means he adds less than half a win a season. He’s slightly better than an average Joe at first base.
Prospects have a similar reputation to backup quarterbacks in the NFL. The backup becomes the fan-favorite – name chanting and all – if the starting quarterback is struggling. And in baseball, especially in the Phillies case with so many prospects, if a guy is struggling, the prospect becomes the hottest name in town. Right now, Rhys Hoskins is the backup quarterback.
Hoskins’ slash line in the minors the last two seasons are almost identical, too. He slashed .281/.377/.566 last season and is currently at .281/.385/.568. He broke the Lehigh Valley franchise record for home runs in a season and is on pace for far fewer strikeouts than last year.
This is becoming problematic because every day Hoskins isn’t playing in the major leagues, even at a limited capacity, his development is getting pushed back. Yankees’ star Aaron Judge, who was an all star and an MVP candidate, had a cup of coffee for the Yanks last year, playing in 27 games. Judge struggled mightily, striking out in exactly half of his at-bats. But coming into this year, Judge knew what to expect, as he hit .303 with 10 home runs in April.
Let Hoskins come up and struggle this year so he can be rearing to go in 2018 (the Phillies see the problem too, as they played Hoskins in left field Monday night). We know Joseph isn’t anything close to a Judge. We don’t know what Hoskins is yet, but the Phillies could speed up the trial by giving the triple-A first baseman a call.