Of the many things wrong with the Phillies to start the season, Rhys Hoskins and his continued struggles at the plate are probably the most frustrating. After a dismal second half of the season last season, many fans thought that this could be a huge bounce back season for Hoskins. Instead it seems we have seen much of the same. Hoskins seems very inclined to keep looking for walks as he works through tinkering with his swing.
The frustration for me begins and ends with his approach. While its completely understandable to get off to a slow start to a season, Rhys’ at-bats have given more worries from concern. We have known he was a patient hitter at the plate, but to end last year and again to start this season, Hoskins has been passing up really good pitches early on in at-bats. Now, I am not making an argument that he should be swinging first pitch every time he’s up. The best way, however, to build confidence at the dish is to feast on the get-me-over pitches, especially early in the count.
A stat line of .172/.429/.620 is not bad for 29 at-bats. Frankly, an argument could be made that it is a good stat line for a No. 2 hitter. The stats here, though, are very deceiving. His at bats, prior to yesterday’s games were hard to watch. The mechanics of his swing paired with his penchant for pulling pitches makes for consistent hooked line-drives into the opposing team’s dugout. His foul balls remind me of the way I fouled balls off in little league.
Hoskins has a very short swing and really quick hands. His happy zone is inside, as it allows him to use his hands to drive the ball down the left field line. His swing and, to an extent, his approach remind me a lot of Chase Utley from the right side, but with one major difference. Utley was almost standing on top of the plate, whereas Hoskins stands 8-10 inches off.
Being on top of the plate still would leave Hoskins susceptible to the outside pitch because of his swing mechanics. The fact that he stands off the plate like he does makes the outside pitch pretty much unhittable if trying to pull it. That being said, Hoskins needs to either move closer to the plate or learn how to use the other side of the field. Pitchers are going to continue to paint that outside corner with pitches and he will struggle if he does nothing.
When Hoskins burst onto the scene hitting 18 HRs in his first 34 games, it was thought that we had found our first baseman of the future. After hitting 18 HRs in his last 135 games, people are beginning to question whether or not he can still hit major league pitching. Fans are calling for him to be taken out of the starting lineup. Some are even asking for him to be traded. The question is simple in theory, but so much more difficult in reality.
What do the Phillies do with Rhys Hoskins?
First off, I am not in the camp to trade him. The only way I would consider it right now is if Oakland realizes it can’t afford Matt Olson. Olson is playing his way into a big contract which Oakland can’t afford. Maybe Olson for Hoskins plus a few extra pieces would be something the A’s would consider. Other than that, I am not just going to trade Hoskins to trade him.
However, I do think that if his woes continue and he doesn’t build off the second game of yesterday’s doubleheader, a change needs to be made. The early season performances of Hoskins and Jean Segura seems like a perfect way to introduce top prospect Alec Bohm to the MLB. Bohm will be up on this team at some point in 2020 and both players’ struggles makes the Phillies’ argument of a lack of at-bats much more difficult to believe. Bohm may not have stood out in spring and summer workouts, but he showed last year that he is more than ready to handle major league pitching.
There is hope that Hoskins can regain the confidence that he lost. He still has the elite knowledge of the strike zone and the bat speed to be a dominant power hitter in the middle of this Phillies’ order.
With Bohm nipping at his heels, he better hope he finds that stroke that endeared him to the Philly faithful soon.
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