The Philadelphia Phillies lost their final game of the year this past Sunday, and a season that came with high expectations and playoff aspirations left with a disappointing 81-81 record and a fourth place finish in the National League East.
There were a bevy of reasons that the Phillies didn’t live up to expectations in 2019, and one of them is Rhys Hoskins.
It was a strange year for Hoskins. After the first two months of the season, it seemed like he was the only big name on the team meeting his expectations at the plate. But as the season grew older and Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto both caught fire, Hoskins disappeared at the plate.
Hoskins got worse in just about every facet in 2019. He finished with less hits, doubles, home runs, runs and RBIs than he did in 2018, and his OPS was 31 points lower than a season ago. While the Phillies made severals upgrades elsewhere in the lineup, Hoskins’ step backwards played a big part in their disappointing season.
After coming into the season sure of his ability as a clean up hitter on a contenting team, we are heading into the offseason with more questions than answers about the 26-year-old.
Here are three numbers that define Hoskins’ struggles in 2019:
Nine – Home runs in the second half
Things got absolutely brutal for Rhys Hoskins following the All-Star Break.
His first half was pretty good, giving him something to build on as the year winded down. His .931 OPS and 20 home runs prior to July 12 led the team, and his .530 slugging percentage was an indication that he was capitalizing on the “juiced ball.”
But rather than building on his first-half success, Hoskins fell apart after the All-Star Break. He became only the third player since 2010 with 46 or less hits in 275 plus plate appearances in the second half of a season, and his numbers were night and day from his success in the prior months:
Rhys Hoskins, 1st half vs 2nd half:
BA – .263 / .179
SLG % – .530 / .363
OPS – .931 / .680
PA/HR – 19.6 / 34.2
WAR – 2.5 / -0.4
— Jonny Heller (@jonnyheller) September 30, 2019
Hoskins’ .180 batting average is the second worst in a second half since 1908 for a Phillies player with at least 200 plate appearances (Hoskins had 313). He has been known to be streaky throughout his young MLB career, but had never had a stretch that was this bad for this long.
This lack of production for two-and-a-half months is really concerning for the Phillies. According to Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia, the Phillies are now more likely to consider trading Hoskins this offseason than give him an extension. His quick rise made him the face of the franchise, but he has to rebuild his reputation after this abysmal stretch.
116 – Walks
Obviously, 2019 was an overall disappointment for Hoskins. But the one thing he did really well was work pitchers and get walks. His total was best in the National League this year and only three behind Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman for the major league lead.
Even when he was struggling, Hoskins’ ability to walk kept him on base. His walk percentage only dropped from 17 percent to 15 percent from the first half to the second half despite all of his other numbers falling greatly.
There is no question that Hoskins has a great eye, but his ability to walk alone is not enough for him to be the above-average offensive weapon that he should be. He has a great eye, which should lead to better offensive production all around. Despite this, Hoskins just could not figure it out down the stretch, proving that he has to rely on more than just his great eye to get back to his earlier solid production.
.333 – Slugging Percent With Runners in Scoring Position
Hoskins finished the season with 85 RBIs, a rather low count for the usual cleanup hitter of a playoff hopeful. Obviously, it is important to use context when evaluating a player’s RBI total, but Hoskins did not perform well in RBI opportunities in 2019.
In 198 plate appearances with runners in scoring position, Hoskins hit only .220 with a .709 OPS and 47 RBIs. This was definitely a factor in his relatively low number of RBIs this year, and it is also important to note that he had only 26 RBIs in his horrible second half of the season.
These numbers with runners in scoring position were vastly different in 2018, when Hoskins had a team high 96 RBIs. He slashed .264/.387/.566 with a .952 OPS in 163 PAs and drove in 62 runs in these opportunities.
The lineup around him was better in 2019, and Hoskins’ inability to produce to the same level that he did in 2018 is concerning. After this disappointing end to the year, the Phillies are left with a lot to think about how Hoskins fits into their future.
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