Welcome back to another article! I hope you have been enjoying the madness that has been the first round of the MLB Playoffs as much as I have! While it’s been a treat watching nearly every playoff game that I possibly can so far, I’m very excited to be looking ahead to next season. In a season in which a global pandemic was occurring and we only had 60 games of data, it is incredibly hard to make assessments about players and their performances, and that includes Rhys Hoskins, who I’ll be looking at in this article.
As with many sports, there are many factors that come into play when looking at how a player performed during a particular season. Players may be statistically slow starters, not play well in certain weather, have problems with certain teams that they continued to face in the re-alignment, and more. What a player has done in their career before 2020 needs to be taken into consideration for these exact reasons.
This offseason, I’ll be doing a series of articles looking at what went right, what went wrong, and the overall 2021 outlook for certain players. I can only take into account the data that has been given and use that to best assess what to expect from them next season. This should be fun! Let’s dive into our next player in this series: Rhys Hoskins.
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What Went Right for Rhys Hoskins in 2020
Maintained an Elite Walk Rate
One thing we’ve been able to count on Rhy Hoskins since he’s gotten into the league? His walk rate and for the second straight year, it has remained elite. While he was not in the top 2% like he was in 2019, he remained in the top 7% in 2020. This will always help when Hoskins is having problems with the stick as he is still able to get on base and add runs and OBP points to his stats. This appears to be one aspect of Hoskins game that will stick year in and year out.
Hitting the Ball Hard
Through 41 games, Hoskins seemed to finally figure out how to hit the ball with some authority. He ranked in the 93 percentile in barrel percentage at 14.8%, which was the highest of his career. While his exit velocity roughly stayed the same with room for improvement, he increased his launch angle, his sweet spot percentage, xSLG, and hard-hit percentage. This was all done with cutting his already good strikeout rate down one percent. Surely enough, Hoskins looked to have regained some of the lost power in his swing.
Improved versus the Breaking Ball and Offspeed Pitches
Not only did Rhys Hoskins have the highest batting average versus breaking balls and offspeed pitches in this career, but his expected batting averages versus both were also career highs. While his .225 BA and .191 xBA versus breaking balls leave something to be desired, they are improvements over his .188 BA and .151 xBA from 2019. His offspeed on the other hand took a HUGE step in improvement. His 2019 stats of a .169 BA and xBA shot up to a .333 BA and an astonishing .399 xBA! That looks to be someone who was seeing the offspeed a lot better in 2020.
What Went Wrong:
Batting Average Concerns
Let’s be clear; when you look at Rhys Hoskins, you’re not necessarily looking for a .300 or higher batting average. However, as a so-called “Power-hitter”, you would like to see him hit .260 or higher. Hoskins batting averages over the last 3 seasons are .246, .226, and .245. That will not get the job done. His expected batting averages over that time are even worse at .234, .221, and .238. Hitting at these averages, along with the streakiness that Hoskins has tended to show throughout his 4-year career, spells danger for his long-term outlook. He may get moved down in the order or even, out of the lineup altogether.
Struggles versus the Fastball
What pitch are you most likely to see as a Major League hitter? The one most pitchers rely on to throw strikes or some will ONLY feature? The fastball. If you’re having trouble hitting the fastball, that’s a problem. Halfway through the season, he was hitting .150 against the fastball.
Think about that. At that point he had one RBI on the year as well. Give Hoskins credit as he finished the season at a .242 average and 6 home runs against that pitch. However, I’m not patting him on the back necessarily for this. His batting average and slugging percentage versus the fastball has declined in each of his four major league seasons. His whiff percentage also jumped almost 8 percent against the fastball this year as well. If Hoskins doesn’t start reversing this trend, this will get ugly quick.
Fly Ball Rate
According to Fangraphs.com, the league-average fly-ball rate is around 35%. Rhys Hoskins, who many would consider a supposed power-hitter, had a below-average fly-ball rate at 32.4%. Where Hoskins made up for it? Hoskins has excelled in his career at having a great HR/FB rate at 14.3% or higher his entire big league career.
Good homerun hitters typically average around a 15-20% HR/FB rate and Hoskins has fit that most of the time. However, many times this is not sustainable year after year and with Hoskins decreasing his fly-ball rate every year he’s been in the big leagues, can you rely on his variable stat of an above 14% HR/FB rate? If Hoskins stops putting the ball in the air, this is sure to most likely go down and could be complete carnage for his fantasy value.
Outlook for 2021:
Rhys Hoskins, like Patrick Corbin last week, needs to have his ADP take a significant hit in order to be worth drafting in 2021. The streakiness and inconsistencies alone as a Hoskins owner are frustrating but one of the items not mentioned in this article is the dangerous presence of Alec Bohm. Bohm impressed in his rookie season with a .338 batting average to go with 4 home runs and 23 RBI’s.
In many circles, it has already been discussed that if Hoskins were to struggle, that Bohm could shift to first base and Philadelphia has the depth options between Segura, Kingery, and others to man 3rd base. This will be a significant red flag to drafting Hoskins in 2021 as he may not have the leash he once had earlier in his career.
As long as Hoskins can work to put the ball in the air more, provide more consistency, and improve his approach versus the fastball, Hoskins can be a top 10 first baseman. It will be important to see if he makes the necessary adjustments in the off-season and spring training but make sure to draft at your own risk.
The regular season just got over but we are already preparing for next year. Keep track of all our 2020-21 MLB Offseason Analysis.
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