Philadelphia Phillies: Keeping tabs on slump-proof slugger Rhys Hoskins

PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 23: Rhys Hoskins /

With 11 games left this season, the Philadelphia Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins is showing that, unless opponent pitchers adjust, he will be a slump-proof hitter.

Last Thursday night the Philadelphia  Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins clubbed his 18th home run in just over a month with his team, and the giddiness continued.  The home team pummeled the fading Miami Marlins, 10-0.  People continued calculating the slugger’s total HRs over a 162-game span – that night that figure was 76.7, which of course would erase Barry Bond’s single-game record of 73 in 2001, a likely steroid-fueled figure.

Then, the seemingly unthinkable happened.  Hoskins fell into a slump.  Most observers had surely discounted the rookie’s 0-12 start with the Phils.  (“Hey, he was probably just getting used to the better lighting at the new level.”)  But suddenly, things went south against the young – and always rebuilding – Oakland A’s.

Friday night against the mustachioed junkball artist, Daniel Mengden, Hoskins went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts.

Saturday evening he went 0 for 3 with a strikeout and a walk.

Sunday afternoon his tally was 0 for 5 with three Ks.  On Saturday and Sunday together he left six men on base.

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OMG!  We quietly fretted.  We worried!!  We tried not to think of Aaron Judge’s epic collapse after his hot start this season, which lasted weeks!!!  Worst of all, the Philadelphia Phillies were about to face the best team in baseball, the Los Angeles Dodgers, who until a recent bout with the hiccups were on a seeming pace to win 152 games this season.  The first pitcher up for LA was Clayton Kershaw, who was working on a seasonal WHIP of 0.22 or some such figure.  As Casey Stengel would say, “You could look it up.”

It was seemingly against Kershaw that Hoskins began his climb out of that hole that included 12 plate appearances and one lonely walk.  However, you kind of breezed through that walk on Saturday night, right?  That’s where the climb actually began.

Monday night, in a game I attended, Hoskins hit two balls hard, one for a single, and walked again, a key free pass, before Aaron Altherr’s monster, game-winning grand slam against Kershaw.

Last night he climbed out of the hole entirely, driving in four, including three on a bases-clearing double, and powering another win.

Here’s the thing:  Whereas Odubel Herrera and Maikel Franco seem to lose their swings – and if truth be told, proper approaches – Hoskins never seems lost at the plate.  Even striking out, he’ll manage to see seven or eight pitches.

There was no Hoskins homer in the Sept. 19 victory over the Dodgers, but as Jim Salisbury pointed out, Hoskins gathered another of his preposterous rankings on hyper-focused lists:  “Only Albert Pujols had more RBIs (44) in the first 39 games of his career. Joe DiMaggio had 42 RBI in his first 39 games.”  Hoskins sits at 43 going into the last two games against LA in a series the Phillies have already at least split.

Next: The Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins and the fastest start in history – in any field?

We pause here to remind everyone of something lost in the deluge of WAR, OPS, IBB, FIP, and other modern metrics:  Since the beginning of the game of baseball, the most important offensive statistic has always been runs batted in.  Runs batted in, far easier to come by than home runs, always increase the chances of winning. The bottom line on Philadelphia Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins, though?  A Hoskins slump, so far, really only lasts about a game and a half.