Hoskins, BABIP, and Sustainability

The topic of Rhys Hoksins and sustainability is a big one, because no one believes he will hit 80 home runs a year, but they do want to know how real he is. Today The Athletic Philly wrote about Hoskins and sustainability and this set of paragraphs caught me.

The rest of Hoskins’ success at the plate is no fluke.

The average major league player has a BABIP (batting average on balls in play) of around .300. Through his first 143 plate appearances, Hoskins’ BABIP is .257, suggesting he’s actually getting somewhat unlucky on the balls he doesn’t smash over the fence.The Athletic

BABIP might be one of the most misunderstood stats in baseball. One of the reasons for this is that it was at the center of a large pitching theory (DIPs). DIPs is the basis of FIP and it essentially says that a pitcher has no control over batted balls off of them. The major league average on balls in play is .300 and the assumption was that pitching BABIP trended towards .300 for pitchers over a large enough sample size. This also lead to a belief that batter BABIP actually trended to .300 over time as well. The reason for the trending on pitchers was that the large sample size of batters would average out. It turns out that pitchers have an influence on the type of contact off of them, and that different types of contact are hits at different rates. Continue reading…

Phillies Call Up Rhys Hoskins

Earlier this week the Phillies announced they were moving their best pure hitting prospect from first base to left field to accommodate Tommy Joseph staying at first base. I have a lot of thoughts about what the move means strategically, but what is done is done. What that move does mean is that the Phillies are finally promoting Rhys Hoskins, just as an outfielder and not a first baseman. For the second year in a row Hoskins is one of the best hitters in minor league baseball, and this time he is doing it in a more neutral environment as opposed to the hitting paradise that is Reading.

Without talking about position or league context, we need to talk about Hoskins the baseball player. At the plate Hoskins features a simple swing, he has a bit of a leg kick, but overall is swing is quiet. He gets good loft with it, but it also isn’t a complete uppercut. Most of his contact is going to be to the pull side, but he does have the power to go the opposite way. When he first came up there were a lot of questions about his raw power, and they are mostly fair as his power is probably plus, maybe it is plus plus. What he has done incredibly well over the years is to refine his approach and pitch recognition. This has allowed him to get the most out of his raw tools, and so while his raw power doesn’t measure up to Dylan Cozens, he is able to match him in actualized production. Hoskins is mostly a fastball hitter, but he will crush mistakes over the plate. He has less frequently expanded the strike zone in the upper levels, but can still chase breaking balls. The complete package is one fairly light on weaknesses. This season he has reverse platoon splits, but only 123 PAs against LHPs so it is hard to read too much into his relative struggles vs them, given that he crushed them in 2016. This year he has walked more than he has struck out vs RHPs which is a stark improvement on last season where he had a 50 to 97 walk to strikeout rate vs same side pitching. Overall he should be an average hitter (.260-.270) with a good on base percentage, and he has the power to hit 30+ home runs a year with an equal amount of doubles. He might have a bit more ceiling than that if he can maintain his AAA strikeout rate, but I would expect it to regress back towards 20% from the 15.8% it is at right now. Continue reading…

Phillies’ Patience Allows for Joseph Turnaround

Rhys Hoskins is hitting .327/.407/.617 in AAA. He is putting up one of the best hitting seasons in the minor leagues. On May 1, the Phillies biggest weaknesses were probably catcher and first base. This led to calls for Hoskins (and Jorge Alfaro) to be promoted to the major leagues. Since the beginning of May, Cameron Rupp has been hitting .364/.462/.636, but more importantly, Tommy Joseph is hitting .393/.500/.857. Even with this surge, Joseph has been a below average hitter on the year, but it begins to reopen the debate on who is the first baseman of the future and how should that battle play out.

Last year, Joseph was almost assuredly the biggest surprise for the Phillies. He was on the edge of being released from the organization, and he hadn’t received an invite to major league camp. Despite all of that, he ended up hitting .257/.308/.505 for the Phillies, and was even better from July 1 until the end of the season, when he hit .281/.355/.546 with a 9.0% walk rate and a 19.0% strikeout rate. For that 3 month stretch, he was a Top 15 first baseman in baseball. We also can’t go into why Joseph has been good of late without addressing how bad he was to start the year. Continue reading…