Here's why Hoskins is poised for a hot streak

2 years ago

This story was excerpted from Todd Zolecki’s Phillies Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

A hard-nosed and respected baseball man said last week that the Phillies need Rhys Hoskins to get on one of his hot streaks.

He can carry the team for weeks when he is on.

Hoskins went 3-for-5 with a home run in Monday’s 9-0 victory over the Mariners in Seattle. He went 1-for-4 with a homer in Tuesday’s 5-4 loss. Maybe it is the beginning of something. He is slashing .212/.303/.413 with four homers and 12 RBIs this season. Remarkably, his .716 OPS is 85th out of 174 qualified players in baseball. MLB has a .678 OPS overall.

“I feel like I’ve been hitting the ball hard a lot,” Hoskins said recently. “I don’t know how many clichés you want to go through: trust the process, control what you can control. It’s obviously a results-based business, but I think I’m far enough into my career now that I know if my work has been good, my at-bats have been pretty good, I feel like I’m not chasing as much, I’m staying in the zone. So at some point it’s got to flip.”

Hoskins is 21st out of 223 hitters (minimum 50 balls in play) in hard-hit rate at 51.4 percent, which is the percentage of balls in play at 95 mph or more. He is 14th in average exit velocity at 93.1 mph.

I know a few people reading this are saying, “Who cares if a ball is hit hard? An out is an out!”

Yes, an out is an out. But not every out is equal. The numbers prove that the harder a ball is hit, coupled with a favorable launch angle, the better the chance for it to be a hit. Essentially, if you must bet on the hitter batting .212 through May 10 with a top 25 hard-hit rate or the hitter batting .275 with a bottom 25 hard-hit rate, it is wise to put your money on the hitter consistently putting the barrel on the ball, especially if his track record suggests he is better than his slow start.

In Hoskins’ case, his .862 OPS from 2017-21 ranks 26th out of 162 hitters.

More evidence of Hoskins’ slow start: he has run into some bad luck. His batting average is 37 points lower than his expected batting average. His slugging percentage is 78 points lower than his expected slugging.

Knowing those numbers can help a hitter keep his sanity. Instead of going into the cage and thinking he needs to change something, he can continue the same routine and work and believe the results will come.

“I’m not chasing my own tail, which is so easy to do,” Hoskins said.