One of the major storylines during last season was the difference in production for Phillies stars Rhys Hoskins, Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto between the first and second halves of the season.
In the first half, Hoskins led the way with an impressive .263/.401/.530 slashline, while Realmuto, .273/.328/.438 and Harper, .253/.370/.470 struggled relative to their expectations. In the second half, Hoskins regressed, slashing .180/.318/.361 and Harper, who slashed .270/.376/.564, and Realmuto, who slashed .278/.327/.565 both caught fire.
Harper and Realmuto were both serviceable players in the first half, but Hoskins second half was one of the worst among all qualified major leaguers. But, Hoskins’ rough stretch came with great production from both Harper and Realmuto. So, if you had the choice, would you take first half production or second half production from all three players in 2020?
Destiny Lugardo, Assistant Editorial Director
There are long-term implications that come with a shortened season in which Hoskins is rated as one of the worst hitters in baseball. Of course, the front-office could chalk it up to the atypical nature of the season to an extent. But by the end of the season, if there is a season, decisions ultimately have to be made based on what happened on the field.
If Hoskins puts up the same disastrous numbers as he did the year before, the Phillies might look to move in another direction. This is especially true if Alec Bohm proves he’s capable of being a major contributor offensively but struggles at third base. The NL permanently implementing the DH could afford him another opportunity.
If I were the Phillies, I’d root for Hoskins’ success at the plate more than anyone else. Harper’s role on the team is solidified for the long-term and Realmuto’s fate could be too if he chooses Philadelphia. Knowing for sure that the team has another relatively cheap, controllable power bat in Hoskins is the best outcome from either of these two scenarios, so going with the first option is a no-brainer.
Jonny Heller, Assistant Editorial Director
Yes, Hoskins was bad in the second half of 2019, and his bat in a major league lineup would be disastrous. But, another way to look at this question is this: are the Phillies better off when their stars play like stars, or when their stars are just fine? I’ll take the latter, because getting elite production from your best players is key to winning.
The Phillies simply need Realmuto and Harper to step up, and if that comes with Hoskins’ struggles carrying into this season, then so be it. Take the 2019 Nationals, for example. They relied on their two big bats in Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto, and although the lineup wasn’t incredibly deep, they won a World Series behind two big bats (and a great rotation, but that’s another story).
The Phillies aren’t paying Bryce Harper to put up an .840 OPS, and they need Realmuto to not just be the best catcher in baseball behind the plate, but at the plate as well. Obviously, neither of these scenarios are ideal. If Hoskins is a zero at the plate, there’s a hole in the lineup whether or not you replace him with someone else already on the roster. But Harper and Realmuto being elite instead of just pretty good is the most important thing for this team’s success.
Brandon Apter, Staff Writer
I think starting the season with momentum is very important for a lot of teams, but especially for a Phillies team that has been the model of inconsistency over the last several years. Although this roundtable forces us to choose either one or the other, I believe the first half production from these guys would only lift the level of play of other guys throughout the season. That way, in the second half, when all these guys go through slumps, there are others on the team that can be relied upon to carry the load.
Also, I think first half success from these three could put the Phillies in a great position to make moves at the deadline. If we had to sit and wait until the second half to get this production, it’s hard to believe Phillies management would make moves to try and help them get to the playoffs. I think once they see the success of this team in the first half, they will make the moves that they need to in order to get over the hump. They haven’t before, but with pressure mounting on Middleton, Klentak, and company, anything short of a big improvement will result in changes to come.
Ty Daubert, Staff Writer
If the Phillies wish to be true contenders in 2020, they will likely need all three of Hoskins, Harper and Realmuto to be key contributors. But for the sake of this exercise, I’d argue that the trio’s second-half production may actually be preferable for the team.
Hoskins was extremely disappointing in the second half of the season, but the Phillies would probably be able to manage that lackluster production with the addition of Didi Gregorius to the lineup and the return of Andrew McCutchen.
Also, the Phillies lineup differs from others across the league. Many other teams have light-hitting catchers that they hide near the bottom of their lineups. In this scenario, the Phillies would have a catcher who could carry much more of an offensive load, and could move their light-hitting first baseman down in the order. With an improved lineup at other positions and Realmuto and Harper carrying the offense, the team could be better equipped to handle another season of struggle at the plate from Hoskins.
John Leuzzi, Intern
I think there is one obvious answer to this storyline, and that is I would take the first half productions from Harper, Hoskins and Realmuto any day of the week. Though Harper and Realmuto were adjusting to their new home ballpark and team, they still put up impressive numbers to go along with Hoskin’s numbers. The three combined for more home runs, RBI’s and extra-base hits in the first half compared to the second half as well in reference to Baseball-Reference.com.
Lastly, there is no way I would want the type of production Hoskins put together in the second half in a lineup especially for a team that was in contention for a playoff spot until the last month of the season. I would jeopardize great production for good production from Harper and Realmuto if it meant Hoskins was contributing to the lineup like he is supposed to.
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