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2021 Player Preview: Rhys Hoskins

Rhys Hoskins is the Phillies’ biggest X-factor for 2021.

Philadelphia Phillies v New York Mets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Rhys Hoskins is coming off of an off-season elbow surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow. He injured it in September when he collided with former Phil Corey Dickerson and missed the final 17 games of the season.

Philadelphia Phillies v Miami Marlins Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

After his spring training debut as the DH against the Yankees on March 4, he said “I felt strong, felt normal. If you’re asking me, there’s no reason why I won’t be ready for opening day, barring something really weird happening.”

The hope for the Phillies, of course, is that Rhys is right, and he will be ready for opening day with no concerns.

What could go right?

It’s no secret that when Rhys Hoskins is playing well, he’s a force to be reckoned with. That was evident enough in his rookie season when he hit 18 homers and had 48 RBI in just 50 games. Having other “force to be reckoned with” players around him in the lineup makes him even better. Facing a murderer’s row that includes Andrew McCutchen, Didi Gregorius, Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto and Alec Bohm is no easy feat for any pitcher. Because of that, often it’s guys like Hoskins who benefit the most.

There’s no denying that Hoskins struggled in 2019, but prior to his late-season injury, his 2020 seemed to be a good step forward. His 137 OPS+ was the highest of his career, excluding his monstrous first season. The Phillies would like to see Rhys continue that progression this season.

In 2021, Rhys Hoskins will be without a doubt one of the biggest X-factors not only on the Phillies, but in the National League. If Joe Girardi can add a consistent Hoskins to that murderer’s row lineup, this team is in serious playoff contention.

What could go wrong?

Perhaps no one defines the word “streaky” as well as Rhys Hoskins. Over his career, Hoskins is a perennial “first half” player who struggles after the All-Star break. He’s especially frustrating in the months of September and October, where his career average is just .203 and his total strikeouts rise to a staggering 111. His numbers in August are better, but not by much.

The thing is, when Hoskins is hot, he is really hot. But if the Phillies want to contend this year, or any year in the near future, they need him to figure out how to maintain his production throughout the full season. As long as he continues to fall off after the break, the team will struggle to contend for a playoff position.