Like all of you, I’ve been mesmerized by Rhys Hoskins and the unprecedented number of home runs he’s hit through 32 games. His walk and strikeout rates are nearly identical, and he’s been more successful early on than I could have possibly hoped. There will be setbacks and he will not continue on an 81 homer pace, but early returns are pretty amazing.
So...let’s talk about J.P. Crawford instead.
In the Philadelphia professional sports environment, how much of a blessing is it for J.P. Crawford to come up and play his first professional games with the Hoskins spectacle taking place? All of us know how hard fans can be on players here when there are high expectations. But Crawford has been able to avoid that so far because of Hoskins.
With the Phillies in last place and Hoskins smashing balls deep into the night every other game, the expectations are pretty low. Crawford’s game is not nearly as dramatic as Hoskins’ is. Walks and doubles power at shortstop while playing really good defense is fantastic in baseball numbers terms, but it probably isn’t going to pump the nads of Vinnie from the Docks.
Along comes Rhys Hoskins, thumping balls all over the park. There could be no better diversion. Crawford becomes an afterthought. There’s less need for him to show something immediately. We’ve seen in the past as he’s leveled up that some adjustment time has been needed, particularly at Lehigh Valley. Remember the “All it is is motivation” tweet in July?
At the end of a bad season, Hoskins is giving us night after night of “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED” moments. That, combined with the Phillies’ post-ASB resurgence (26-31 since the All-Star break), has created a low-pressure, optimistic environment that is likely more conducive to development and growth. It’s given Crawford space and time to hone his more elegant craft. It’s far better than having him adjust to MLB pitching at the start of next year with the hopes and dreams of a new season still alive. Hoskins’ ridiculous start couldn’t possibly have been by design to help Crawford, but the fact that it is turning out that way is pretty great.
Extending the thought, Hoskins takes pressure off everyone else, too. Herrera had (as is customary) some ridiculously bad hacks last night, but then he blasted a ball into the second deck. I heard a couple grumbles from fans after some of the swings, but who can be mad on a night like last night? Nick Williams has been lacing double after double because he’s relaxed and not “THE HAMMELS TRADE GUY” The list goes on and on, but winning and scoring takes the stink out of CBP enough to make the environment wholesome for growth.
Even Maikel Franco, whose future really needs its own post, had been targeted some by the boo birds. I feel as though that’s been mitigated to a degree lately. It seems to me that even he has more room to work things out now that he’s not expected to carry the team in the middle of the order. Maybe he can still grow into an Aramis Ramirez type player. He just turned 25 at the end of August. Again, this needs its own post.
But of all of the sprouting players that Hoskins is sheltering right now, Crawford remains the most important, in my view. And it looks like he’s starting to feel welcome, based on his performance in the last few games -- some walks, some doubles, and defense.
And seeing Freddy Galvis and Crawford next to each other at short and second or short and third? That’s pretty fun, even if Freddy’s bat is always in my mind. All the balls will be caught! Well, except that funky over the shoulder one out toward center the other night...but...HEY, HOSKINS HOMERED AGAIN! See?
Every day that Crawford isn’t the focus lets him just get better.
What’s the best part of Crawford’s game?
This poll is closed