Data Ball With Jason Ferrie

What’s wrong with Rhys Hoskins?


Rhys Hoskins is struggling in August. (Gavin Baker/Icon Sportswire)

If the Philadelphia Phillies are going to get to the postseason, they will be need their big three hitters to carry the offense on their back. Right now, Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto are holding their own as the Phillies continue to contend for a Wild Card spot in the National League. While two of the stars are shining, Rhys Hoskins is in the middle of a dreadful slump. It hasn’t mattered who the hitting coach is, Hoskins has struggled. There are a few things the Phillies should be concerned about, but that can also be fixed.

Phillies fans have been treated to the power of Hoskins since he first joined the Phillies in August of 2017. The young slugger set out on a torrid pace and it seemed like he was hitting a home run every night. Those bombs carried into last year, as Hoskins launched 34 home runs in his first full major league season. As he entered 2019, there was some thought that Hoskins could benefit so much from hitting between Harper and Realmuto that he could flirt with 40 home runs and be a serious player in the National League MVP race.

While the MVP candidate part may have been a bit eager, prior to the All-Star Break, Hoskins seemed to have a chance to push for 40 home runs after hitting 20 in his first 315 at bats. For reference, at the All-Star Break in 2018, Hoskins had 14 home runs before getting hot in the second-half and hitting an additional 20.

The second-half of 2019 has been a different story for Hoskins. Since the midsummer classic, the 26-year-old is slashing .168/.315/.336 with just four home runs, 11 RBIs and an a .651 OPS. What’s the cause of the worst stretch of Hoskins’ young career?

Hoskins began to flourish in the minors when he overhauled his approach and started to focus on putting the ball in the air more often, so that’s always where we should start with Hoskins when struggling. Starting with his remarkable short season in 2017 and working through today, there is a noticeable change in Hoskins’ average launch angle:

The trend is obvious when looking at the chart and it’s a good place to start with Hoskins. Since he entered the league, the average launch angle for Hoskins has jumped 6.5 degrees—which is quite a large jump.

It’s also important to find out if there is a point in 2019 where the launch angle started to take a jump and whether it coincides with Hoskins’ issues. Below is Hoskins rolling launch angle for the 2019 season:

As the season has gone on, Hoskins’ launch angle has increased very noticeably over his last 50 to 60 batted balls. Over that same time period, there has not been an increase in exit velocity, which means some of those balls that were previously getting out may no longer be. Hoskins has been hovering around league average in exit velocity over his last 150 batted balls so there hasn’t been a massive change in that department.

Since Hoskins puts the ball in the air so often, it’s important to see where he stands in terms of exit velocity when doing so. When hitting a line drive or fly ball, Hoskins has an average exit velocity of 93.1 mph, which is ranked 196th out of 436 hitters with at least 50 batted balls. A league-leading launch angle and average exit velocity on line drives and fly balls is a little concerning, but it isn’t something that cannot be fixed.

Along with putting the ball in the air, one of Hoskins philosophies is to do that to the pull side. Hoskins pulls the ball at an extremely high rate and hits a good amount of home runs that flirt with the left field foul pole. He is struggling in the month of August and it’s probably no coincidence that his pull rate is 29.6 percent for the month. In every other month of the season, Hoskins posted a pull rate of at least 48 percent. Hoskins is at his best when he is pulling the ball and the numbers reflect that:

Season Location AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO BABIP wOBA wRC+
2019 Pull 0.455 0.452 0.948 1.400 0.494 0.375 0.565 255
2019 Center 0.253 0.248 0.485 0.732 0.232 0.208 0.294 78
2019 Opposite 0.143 0.140 0.232 0.372 0.089 0.140 0.152 -15

Adding to the pull rate standing out this month, Hoskins is trading line drives for ground balls, which never happens to him. In August, Hoskins has a 38.6 percent ground ball rate. On ground balls, Hoskins has a 27 wRC+ (100 is the league average) for the season, so it’s clearly not a strategy Hoskins is looking to deploy. The first chart below is Hoskins’ spray chart by batted ball type for the month of August, while the second chart is prior to August. The difference is pretty clear:

The other portion of Hoskins struggles may be coming from results on different pitches. The biggest difference this season is that Hoskins isn’t doing the same damage against fastballs. In both of Hoskins’ previous two seasons, he posted at least a .600 slugging percentage against fastballs, which is the pitch he gets most often. This season, Hoskins is slugging just .487 against fastballs. To no surprise, he is also posting an all-time high launch angle of 27 degrees against the pitch, with a lesser exit velocity than previous years.

The positive in this is that August is the first month Hoskins has posted a slugging percentage below .500 against fastballs this season. The negative is that in 34 batted ball events against the pitch, Hoskins has just four hits and a .214 slugging percentage. His expected slugging percentage however is .495, which provides some hope that he is still hitting the pitches better than the results have shown.

The Phillies and Hoskins will have to put work in to correct these issues. Most notably, if Hoskins wants to generate the results of the previous two seasons, he may need to find a way to correct his launch angle by a few degrees. It has been a growing issue as the season and his career have gone on that is a little concerning. While the approach of hitting the ball in the air is the correct route for a hitter like Hoskins, the Phillies may benefit from a slight reduction in launch angle and getting back to his pull side.

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Phanatic

    August 19, 2019 at 9:32 pm

    What’s wrong with him is he stupidly got himself engaged instead of focusing on his profession. If I owned the Phillies I would DFA any player who did something so selfish. The team comes first.

    Not that it matters. He will never be an All-Star unless he is chosen by MLB’s Affirmative Action Committee like J.T. Realmuto this year. But don’t tell Kelly. Kelly thinks Realmuto is ‘special’.

  2. Craig Glessner

    August 19, 2019 at 10:59 pm

    Wow dumbest statements yet. I’m pretty sure there are plenty of successful athletes who are married. Second part Realmuto is clearly one of the best catchers in the league both offensively and defensively try to name 3 better all round catchers. As far as Hoskins goes he just needs to be more aggressive I’d take 35 hits and 30 RBI’s over 100 walks. Almost every pitcher starts him off with an off speed pitch right down the middle and he just takes it he needs to be sitting on that pitch. I know family must be a crazy concept for Phanatic but every successful team is one that gels together I’m sorry your mom locked you in the basement. By the way I am very German and I don’t think you know crap about business or sports and as my fellow knuckle dragger Jeff pointed out earlier the Cardinals are Busch Beer which is Belgian
    Not German close but no sauerkraut.

  3. Craig Glessner

    August 19, 2019 at 11:56 pm

    Actually your so called beloved Cardinals are owned by Bill DeWitt an American so stick that in your pompous European ass or (arse) or whatever you claim to be.

    P.S. You suck at insulting people

  4. Phanatic

    August 20, 2019 at 12:07 am

    The point of the original comment was to list German FAMILIES. Ruppert is a German. News flash, retard, Ruppert no longer owns the Yankees. Busch is a German. If, like Rupert, he no longer owns the team, fine, it does not take away from my point that German families built winners in baseball like the Yankees and Cardinals.These two German families won more World Series in a few years of their ownership than the Phillies won in their ENTIRE existence.

    But to suggest that Busch is Belgian tells me that you need to get out of Pennsylvania once in a while and I don’t mean Atlantic City or ‘down the shore.’ I would also suggest that if you are indeed German, you couldn’t possibly be Prussian. No Prussian could be so dense.

    Now go away. Go watch your Phillies LOSE. They’re good at it.

  5. Craig Glessner0

    August 20, 2019 at 8:20 am

    More bad news for you Phanatic Ruppert himself was born in America making him yep you guessed it American. His family was German but he can not be considered one. The Yankees have been owned by the Steinbrenner family since 1973 once again Americans. Busch beer is in fact owned by Belgians yes Busch himself was German but sold out so it is no longer under German ownership. It must really suck being wrong all the time and while I’m at it my point is maybe the Phillies do have a history of losing but that doesn’t matter at the beginning of each new season I’m not stuck in the past I’m just supporting the current team. I think someone just needs a tissue because they have an issue.

  6. Craig Glessner

    August 20, 2019 at 9:02 am

    Sorry but Ruppert was born in America making him an American his family was German.
    Busch beer is owned by Belgians which they bought from Germans when Busch owned the Cardinals they weren’t that damn good.
    Your point of German ownership is pointless and inaccurate as many of your rants and whinings are.
    The Phillies do have a history of losing teams but that doesn’t really matter once a new season starts I prefer to live in the present. Maybe you can go fly back into the past with Michael J Foxx and insult the past Phillies teams and fans but if you are going to grace my presence with your worthless and inaccurate comments be prepared to be called out on them.
    Maybe if you get out of that basement you can join the rest of today’s society I’m going to tell you something an umpire told me one day. I love the passion you have for the game but at the end of the day it is just a game and you go home to what really matters and that is family (which Hoskins now has ironically starting these comments)
    GO PHILLIES 2019

  7. Jeff Orbach

    August 20, 2019 at 9:09 am

    Busch was taken over by in-Bev, which is a Belgian Company. I own some of their stock, Busch was actually from Pilsen, which is part of the Czech Republic now. Pilsen is known for their lager beer.

    Steinbrenner is a German family (by way of Cleveland) and they still own the Yanks. The St. Louis Browns were owned at one time,( before they moved to Baltimore) by Chris Von der Ahe another German.

    I’m glad German management didn’t do so well in WWII!

    This site needs a moderator, you are boring and offensive.

  8. denzen

    August 20, 2019 at 11:58 am

    Wow, I just 5 minutes of my life reading these comments.

  9. Rofo47

    August 21, 2019 at 2:20 pm

    IDGAS

  10. KH

    August 28, 2019 at 1:17 pm

    Hoskins is a very over-rated player. The Phillies act like he is a star but he is a gigantic negative on defense and the base paths. He is only a good not great hitter. He needs to be a great hitter to be an all-star because he is wretched at everything else. They better think long and hard before they sign him to a long term contract at 20 million a year plus. He has only been a 1-2 WAR player in the majors so far and this year he could end up with negative b-war.

  11. Miss P

    August 31, 2019 at 7:01 am

    Way too much over thinking the process going on in today’s analytically driven baseball. It’s like GM’s got a taste of ice cream and now they eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
    Family is good.
    Busch beer really sucks.

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