Philadelphia Phillies: Predicting the Phillies opening day lineup

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Philadelphia Phillies
(Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images) /

4)  1B- Rhys Hoskins

Justin: Let Rhys terrorize opposing pitchers after they’ve already been victimized by Harper. Hoskins will reach career dinger numbers. 

Moving on from Carlos Santana was a sigh of relief for most Phillies fans. But no one was likely more relieved than Rhys Hoskins, who actually gets to play his natural position at first base now instead of drowning in an outfield where, as a unit, they combined for a negative WAR. In fact, Phillies’ outfielders ranked dead last in WAR among all teams. It was clear something needed to change.

This discussion is more about the batting order, but I’d be remiss not to mention the positive mental boost that Hoskins is bound to get from moving back to a position he has played for most of his career. Hitting behind Bryce Harper is also something that should give Rhys Lightning a boost, as he’s the only player projected to hit more home runs this season than Harper.

Hoskins is a pure power hitter who knocked 34 dingers last season and looks primed to add a few more to that number this year. Hitting in this type of lineup is going to benefit everyone, including Hoskins who hasn’t even entered his prime yet. He only hit .249 last year, but that’s just how it goes for sluggers sometimes in today’s MLB.

Hoskins frequently struggled last year with offensive slumps and wasn’t particularly good in the field either. That should change with more protection around him, something he hasn’t necessarily had outside of Odubel Herrera when he decides he actually wants to play baseball at a high level. Good luck guessing when that’s going to happen though.

His OPS numbers were still impressive at .850, and he drove in 95 runs. I like Hoskins to reach the century mark in RBI’s this season and battle Harper once again at the Dinger Derby (trademark?). Hoskins and Harper are the set to be the faces of the Phillies for the next decade.

Pete: Rhys Lightning can let loose and go all out “bombs away” all the way out of The Bank.

It’s amazing that Harper and Hoskins are around the same age. Harper has significantly more experience, but Hoskins has displayed nothing short of impeccable promise. In his first less-than half-season stint in 2017, Hoskins took the city by storm with an OPS above 1.000 and 18 bombs in just 50 games. It felt like every time he stood in the batter’s box; there was a chance it could leave the yard. He gave the Phillies something they were desperately missing in the years following the slow dissipation of the 2008 core, a stud.

But he needed to prove himself for a full season. With the not-distant-enough memory of Dom Brown and his epic tease of a 2013 season, we needed more to feel confident that the team possessed a legitimate star. 2018 gave the support and proof that Rhys Hoskins is for real.

His display at the Home Run Derby gained national recognition, but his performances night-in and night-out were enough to electrify the city of Philadelphia. Hoskins proved he wasn’t just on an incredibly fortunate hot-streak in 2017, piping 34 homers into the seats while knocking in just under 100 RBI’s. He mimicked the OPS numbers of his short season, this time posting .850.

Like Justin mentioned, Hoskins was streaky, and there were times where it seemed that he could get a hit if his life depended on it. He displayed flashes reminiscent of Pat Burrell’s not-so-finest moments. Hoskins actually reminds me of Burrell a lot, in the sense that he is a phenomenal hitter with power potential that can also split the gaps. His 38 doubles led the team last season, and he’ll be primed to replicate those numbers this season.

Also like Burrell, he identifies closer to the tortoise than the hare, and he has those moments where you wonder if he’s seeing a shelled peanut at the plate instead of a baseball. Now, comparing Hoskins to Burrell is a compliment, let’s clear the air on that one. But I see a significantly greater potential in Rhys Lightning (the player and the nickname) than I saw in good ole Pat the Bat.

With Harper in front of him, pitchers won’t be to dance around Hoskins. That’s really the lethal characteristic of this lineup, teams cannot pitch around anyone (except maybe the pitcher). But I digress. Rhys is going to be an RBI machine. Honestly, it’s not crazy to predict 40 home runs, and 115 RBI’s out of Hoskins this year. The only reason he won’t reach the century mark is if Harper steals them from him. It promises to be a fun and friendly competition, and stealing RBI’s is certainly a good problem to have.