Most rational fans and media knew that the Phillies were going to miss Rhys Hoskins whether his detractors liked to admit it or not. When he was lost for the season with an ACL injury in Spring Training, his 30 HRs and .794 OPS at a premium offensive position went with him.
Hoskins is a streaky hitter, but he has two big calling cards. He will see pitches and draw walks even when he is struggling. When he’s hot, he will provide home runs in bunches. It just so happens that those are the two areas where the Phillies are struggling the most without him and his new beard.
The Phillies as a team rank 21st in home runs on the season with 45 in 43 games. They finished last season eighth in MLB with 250. They had 49 through 43 games last season, good for seventh best in baseball at that mark. Of those 45 homers this season, 30 of them have been solo shots. The Phillies 15 multi-run home runs rank 23rd in baseball. Last season, Hoskins had 9 multi-run home runs, good for third on the team behind Kyle Schwarber (15) and J.T. Realmuto (10) in a season where they finished 11th in home runs with runners on base.
Part of the reason for the Phillies’ documented struggles with runners in scoring position is they are not hitting the ball over the fence as often as they did last season. That is a direct effect of losing Hoskins. Not only did he provide a source of consistent power, but Hoskins also hit .290 with an OPS of .903 with RISP last season. The early return of Bryce Harper and the inevitable June surge from Schwarber coupled with the onset of hittin’ season will remedy some of the homer output, but right now Philadelphia is feeling the effects of not having Hoskins’ pop in the lineup.
Hoskins’ other trademark is his ability to have long at bats and draw walks. He finished second in pitches seen last season behind only Aaron Judge and averaged 4.3 pitches per plate appearance. His 10.7% walk percentage was among the top 30 of all MLB hitters.
Right now, Bryson Stott, Brandon Marsh, and Kyle Schwarber are the only Phillies averaging at least 4 P/PA. The league average for 2023 is 3.9. Marsh and Schwarber are the only qualified Phillies hitters with a walk percentage higher than 10%, at 15.8% and 14.8%, respectively. They are also the only qualified hitters on the Phillies above the league average of 9%. Bryce Harper is at 10.5% but has only played 13 games so far. As a whole this season, the team ranks 26th in BB% at 7.6. They finished last season 17th at 7.9%. Their total walks of 124 (not including IBB) are the fifth worst in the Majors so far in 2023.
Many people theorized that the Phillies would be able to survive until the trade deadline with some sort of platoon of Darick Hall and Alec Bohm at first base, with Edmundo Sosa playing third base when Bohm wasn’t. Well, that was the plan until Darick Hall was lost for at least two months with a thumb injury. Now Kody Clemens has taken his place in the three-way platoon at first/third.
The trio that has played first base in Hoskins’ absence have combined to slash .255/.314/.409 so far this season. That batting line isn’t too far off from what Hoskins produced last season but remember that Hoskins’ 2022 featured career lows in OBP (.332) and OPS (.794).
Alec Bohm deserves the lion’s share of the credit for keeping the Phillies’ numbers afloat at first base. His anticipated power surge hasn’t quite materialized yet, but a .753 OPS and 5 HRs are a good start. But it’s obviously not the same as if he and Hoskins were in the lineup. Bohm sliding over to first has meant more playing time for Sosa and to a lesser extent, Clemens, causing a domino effect that has affected the entire offense.
Sosa has a .693 OPS and has glaring platoon splits. He’s hitting .310 with a .903 OPS against LHP versus a .222 AVG with a .528 OPS against RHP. Sosa’s also uncharacteristically struggled in the field, already with 5 errors playing third in just 30 games. Clemens is slashing .205/.255/.432 in 17 games with 3 HRs and is striking out a hair under 30% of the time. Both players are being exposed with the additional playing time.
This season could be a dry run for what life could look like if Hoskins were to leave in free agency this winter. The Phillies do still have plenty of time to find a more permanent solution to the question. Reinforcements could be on the way in the form of Darick Hall or a trade deadline acquisition. But in the short term, Hoskins’ absence is a major factor in their offense ranking 21st in runs per game (4.26) through the first quarter of the season.