Rhyses Pieces. Rhys Lightning. Hoskdongs. Whenever a prospect comes up, dominates, and produces a platter of prospective team names to stash for 2018, the triangle of fantasy happiness is complete.
We all know you – yeah, you – should’ve added Hoskins a while ago, yet due to something called
“fantasy fooseball,” “fantasy football,” all your league mates think they’re too cool to add one of the hottest, non-Stanton dongers – new word – in the game. That might leave you with the messiah of mashing still lingering on your waiver wire.
First and foremost, Rhys has bat speed, a lot of it. In the Futures Game, Blast motion sensors clocked him as having the two hardest swings of the game (76.6mph, 74.2mph). For comparison Blast’s site has the average swing somewhere around 70 mph, with absolute peek sitting around 85 mph. Is bat speed predictive of immediate success? No, as Lewis Brinson sat fifth on that same Futures Game list and he has struggled at the major league level. Like any stat, this one isn’t all encompassing.
Information like bat speed can still help, especially when taken in context with Hoskins’ discipline. I’ve become more and more interested with hitting philosophy of late and – with the help of Dan Blewett – have come to see that discipline at the plate is often a product of seeing the ball deeper into the zone. If you combine that characteristic with great bat speed, the result is the ability to cut down on one’s swing and miss, catch balls deep in the zone and still utilize your natural pull-side power. If you look at a player with great bat speed, but worse discipline – think Clint Frazier, often cited as legendary on this metric – you see more majestic highlights, but maintain greater concern for future production due to holes a lack of discipline can create.
The sense of floor Hoskins’ approach gives for fantasy purposes keeps me wondering how he fell so much on prospect lists. I brought up a recurring point with Prospector Ralph on a podcast a few weeks ago, that first base prospects tend to get bogged down on lists because there really isn’t anywhere else to go on the diamond. It’s a defensive knock, that in fantasy, I don’t care about in the slightest if the bat is good enough. This is one reason why I still believe Ryan McMahon is pretty underrated as a prospect – number 33 on my top 100 prospect list – even with the Coors inflation.
So what the heck do we do with Hoskdongs going forward? Most of his production is too fresh to extrapolate, his BABIP is hilariously sitting at .200 because every ball he hits out of the park, and his swinging strike rate – if he qualified – would place him even with Joey Votto. I understand citing the level of talent off which Hoskins has hit his home runs (Straily, Blach, etc.), and a lot of the homers he hit have been above the belt fastballs, but can we just appreciate a good hitter every now and then? Phillies fans haven’t had anything nice since that Dominic Brown run in 2013! Just to spite everybody’s skepticism, Hoskins went yard as I was drafting this column. A bottom-third change from the arm of Kyle Hendricks; how’s that for breaking the trend?
Fangraphs’ Steamer pairs Hoskins with 21% strikeout rate and a 10% walk rate rest of season; clear divergence from his current, nearly even pairing of the two percentages. Is that too pessimistic? It might be easy to say yes, but I have my reservations that the 5.7% swinging strike rate will maintain with his current power profile. If it did, we’re looking at a 24-year-old Anthony Rendon or Daniel Murphy. I do however think he’ll be able to walk at a substantially valuable rate, making him a points league darling, with ample value in the classic RCL-style roto format to be relevant.
Razzball/Steamer has Hoskins sitting with a .263/.345/.512 rest of season with six homers and 16 RBIs prior to Saturday’s games, the 137th player on our Player Rater, and a top-100 hitter. I usually close out my columns by adjusting our site’s projections to what my biased mind thinks is more fitting, but in this case I don’t think I can argue. I’m speculating that this early in his career, Hoskins won’t maintain the swinging strike rate the likes of Mookie Betts and Justin Turner have worked to refine (same category with Rendon and Murphy), which means his strikeouts have to come up, and his average must come down. Pitchers adjust; they do all time and I regret to inform you that Hoskins won’t be an exception. Predict when that adjustment takes place and you have the key to how good Hoskins will be rest of season.
Yet this snippet of negative banter is merely justifying Hoskins as a top 100 hitter down the stretch, instead of standing on the podium of top 40 or 50 – one that effectively says pitchers will take more than a month to adjust back to Hoskins.
This may seem absolutely absurd, but these same Razzball/Steamer projections have Aaron Judge sitting on a .255/.355/.493 slash rest of season, with seven home runs and 18 RBIs. Netting out to 20 spots greater in value than Hoskins, the comparison of production is closer than you would have thought pre All-Star break, and that gap is due in part to New York’s depth and the Phillies, well, you know where this is going.
More intriguing is not what Hoskins will do for the final month of the season, but rather his place among the crop of first basemen – which seems to grow deeper by the minute – in 2018. We’ve seen Yonder Alonso and Logan Morrison rake and fizzle, while Justin Smoak and Ryan Zimmerman have done a better job of maintaining their stock for preliminary ADP numbers in 2018.
I’d consider Hoskins right on par with those bats when the year ages another digit. Hoskins is only 24, roughly six years younger than the average age of our other four first basemen, and while the Phillies’ first baseman may not possess 40-homer power – akin to 2017 Smoak – in his sophomore year, Hoskins also shouldn’t creep towards the 24% strikeout rate that Morrison holds. There are pros and cons to each bat, but I’m convinced that Hoskins has already reserved a seat at the table of consideration for the top 12 first basemen.
Whether you want to take a shot on the next first basemen to change productivity on a dime past the 350 overall mark – where each of our four elders were drafted in NFBC leagues this past March – or opt for the top 150 value that Hoskins will probably claim is a decision a lot of owners will have to make.
Follow me on Twitter or Stanton won’t hit a homer in September! @LanceBrozdow