Does Rhys Hoskins Bring a New Era of Hope to the City of Brotherly Love?

by Clayton Richer | Posted on Tuesday, October 10th, 2017
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Hope may spring eternal, but it can also be highly elusive.  Enter the Philadelphia Phillies as Exhibit A.  The 2017 MLB regular season recently wrapped up with a 66-96 record from the Phils.  2012 was the last season Philadelphia inched towards .500 when they posted an even-keel 81-81 showing.  Each subsequent season saw the team struggling to move out of the NL East cellar. 

A half decade in decline has left a nation of Phillies fans beleaguered and wishing for a return to the golden era of 2007-2011, a run in which Philadelphia claimed five consecutive NL East titles, two NL pennants, and a World Series championship in 2008. 

Much has changed since then, with the Phillies launching one rebuilding campaign after another.  Managers Ryne Sandberg and Pete Mackanin are out.  The celebrated players who contributed to the Fightins’ late aughts dynasty, names like Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Roy Halladay, and Cole Hamels, are long gone.  Ruben Amaro Jr., the once-heralded GM, was run out of town and replaced with young gun Matt Klentak.  Promising prospects have appeared and fizzled, once tested against Major League play. 

One must understand this past narrative of soaring highs and woeful bottoms in order to truly appreciate what the Phillies have on their hands in the form of Rhys Hoskins.  His meteoric rise late in the season was un-promised and un-hyped when Hoskins made his debut with the big-league club on August 10.  For Phillies fans who have been disappointed by smoke and mirrors for far too long, the making of a genuine star in Hoskins comes as a welcome surprise.   

The first baseman and left fielder was unceremoniously selected by the Phillies out of Sacramento State in the fifth round of the 2014 MLB Draft.  Although Hoskins hit well in the minors with a combined 93 home runs, 337 RBIs, and a .287/.375./.532 slash line, he didn’t garner much recognition and failed to make the Baseball America,, or Baseball Prospectus Top 100 Prospects lists. 

At 24, Hoskins’s age may have helped him fly under the radar.  A little older than many top prospects working their ways through the minors, Hoskins appears to have perfectly gestated in the Phillies system without the constant media attention and big-league club expectations that mire some young ballplayers. 

So, when Hoskins hit a historic stride throughout August and September following his call-up, it seemed to come out of nowhere.  He became the rookie to hit nine home runs in the shortest amount of time ever, notching the record in just his 16th game.  Then, in his next two games, he reached the milestones of becoming the rookie to most quickly reach ten and eleven homers, respectively.   

While the fervent home run pace eventually tailed off, Hoskins closed out August with a 13-game hitting streak, during which he hit .367.  He ended the season with 18 homers, 48 RBIs, and a .259/.396/.618 slash line in 50 games and 170 at-bats. 

If you take the small sample of talent that Hoskins displayed during his 2017 stint in the majors and extend it over a season-long campaign, one can assume that the guy is capable of a 40-home run/120-RBI-caliber performance — something the Phillies have not seen since Ryan Howard’s most productive years.  If Hoskins continues as the cornerstone of the rebuilding effort in Philadelphia, the Phillies may soon be back in the Dodgers’ current position as favorites to win the NL pennant.   

It’s now the offseason in the City of Brotherly Love and across the majors, but Hoskins gives the Phillies’ faithful something very tangible to look forward to in 2018. 

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Clayton Richer
About the Author

Clayton Richer is an MLB scribe from north of the border with a slight bias for the Toronto Blue Jays. Clayton has also been the shop-keeper at Baseball Hot Corner since the sites inception in 2012. Follow and interact with Clayton on Twitter @MLBHotCorner or @ClaytonRicher

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