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Washington Nationals v Philadelphia Phillies

2021 report card: Rhys Hoskins, the lynchpin?

Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Would the Phillies have won the National League East with Rhys Hoskins in the heat of the pennant race? Would they have overtaken the Atlanta Braves during a September that saw them go 13-14 that followed a 17-11 August? Would they have done better than 21st in runs scored and OPS in the season’s final month?

One wonders.

2021 stats

443 PA, .247/.334/.530, 27 HR, 71 RBI, 24.4 K%, 13.7 BB%, 127 wRC+, 2.3 fWAR

The good

Rhys Hoskins had his best power season since his incredible rookie campaign, with a .530 slugging percentage that was tied for 11th in the National League among players with at least 400 plate appearances. When he was lost for the season in late August with a core injury, he had slugged 27 bombs, on pace for 40 over 162 games.

He also didn’t suffer the maddening inconsistencies we’d seen from him in seasons past. While most of his other numbers were in line with what he’d done previously, there were no month-long streaks where Hoskins was an automatic out. It was his most consistent season in a Phillies uniform from start to finish, although that finish came quicker than anyone anticipated.

Among MLB first basemen, Hoskins’ 2.3 fWAR was tied with C.J. Cron for 13th, although over a 162-game season, it would have been 3.5, which would have put him in a tie for 7th with Seattle’s Ty France. And in early September, Hoskins’ .365 wOBA was 5th among all NL first basemen, trailing only Max Muncy, C.J. Cron, Joey Votto and Freddy Freeman. When healthy, he was a top-10 first baseman in 2021.

The bad

Well, if you can’t stay healthy, you can’t help your team, and the Phils’ offense desperately missed Hoskins’ big right-handed bat in the middle of the lineup down the stretch.

Some of Hoskins’ other overall numbers dipped a bit, although not precipitously, and the slugging numbers made up for it. Still, his .236 batting average was the lowest since 2019’s .226, and his .334 on-base percentage was the lowest of his career.

Just quibbling.

The future

Hoskins’ future would seemingly be secure, but there are calls by many Phillies fans to dangle him in trades this winter. Barring the signing of a major first baseman in free agency, like Freeman, or using Hoskins for a frontline player at a more premium position or starting rotation, moving him doesn’t make sense.

But the possibility cannot be ruled out. If the Phillies add someone to play third, Alec Bohm could shift to first, making Hoskins expendable in a deal. There are a number of manifestations in which a Hoskins trade could come to fruition, but in no way should the Phils be looking to deal one of the very few homegrown prospects that’s actually turned out to be as good as advertised.

Had Rhys Hoskins stayed healthy through September, I truly believe the Phils would have edged ahead of the Braves. They entered that final showdown series on the penultimate week of the season only down by two games. That series changes dramatically if they’re down just one game, tied, or even up by a game or two.

Final grade: B

If Hoskins had stayed healthy this would have been bumped higher, but part of being good is being on the field, and if you can’t stay on the field, you can’t help the team. Hoskins tried gutting it out throughout August, but it just wasn’t meant to be, and we’re left to wonder what would have happened had his internal core muscles not rebelled against him.

He’ll get another chance to find out in 2022.

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