At first glance, Rhys Hoskins ’ 2020 season wasn’t anything overly special. However, he made great improvements in many facets of his game that breed optimism for 2021. His 29 home runs and 85 RBI in 2019 aren’t bad by any means, but that .226 average was about 20ish points below where many expected him to be. His .245 average in 2020 was far better, and improvements in his batted ball profile suggest that the 2021 version of Hoskins could be eerily similar to his 2018 season.
He hit 10 home runs in 41 games last year, hit .245 and posted his second-best marks of his career in on-base percentage (OBP) and slugging percentage. What’s most exciting is that his home run frequency in 2020 was even better than his 2018 season when he hit 34 round trippers. His pace in 2020 would equate to 39.7 home runs over the course of 600 at-bats.
The reason for his jump in power is explained largely by two factors. Let’s hit them one by one.
1. Increase in Barrel Rate
Hoskins’ 14.8 percent barrel rate in 2020 was his career best by nearly one and a half percentage points. That barrel rate put him in the 93rd percentile amongst qualified hitters in 2020, and he barrelled up just about every pitch type last year, and far better than previous seasons.
2. Continued Development Against Non-Fastballs
Hoskins is making things rough for opposing pitchers. With his continued improvements against non-fastballs, what can you throw the guy? From the graphic above, you can see that he barrelled up breaking and offspeed stuff more, but it is more than just the barrel rate. In terms of exit velocity, he took a slight step back from 2019 (but still within reason of years prior), but not on offspeed pitches. That mark went to the moon!
Take it easy on them, Rhys! A 75 percent hard contact rate against off-speed pitches? Sheesh. He will obviously regress a bit compared to 2020, but if his marks stay elevated compared to 2018 and 2019, he just might hit 40 home runs in 2021.
His launch angle increased for the second straight season and remains in a sweet spot for power potential. Additionally, Hoskins posted a fly ball rate above 50 percent for the third straight season, and in a good home park, more fly balls is key for a slugger like Hoskins.
It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows for Hoskins at the dish, however. His lowered strikeout rate in 2020 was a bit of a mirage and the numbers indicate that Hoskins’ strikeout rate could have been higher compared to other years. His 24.5 percent strikeout rate in 2019 is his career high, but some of the peripherals indicate that with a little less luck, we could be talking about 2020 being his career high in this department.
So you’re telling me that his contact rate has dropped for the third straight season, while he’s swinging at pitches out of the zone more and whiffing more compared to prior season, yet his strikeout rate dropped? Something doesn’t quite add up there. For me, his strikeout rate is going to be around 25 percent in 2021, and will likely be a new career high for him. Don’t get me wrong, he’s going to hit a ton of home runs in the process, but expecting that strikeout rate to remain the same or even drop isn’t in your best interest.
Hoskins is in a great lineup that will give him ample opportunities to drive in plenty of runs and a home park that is conducive to four-baggers. He did miss the final handful of games due to an elbow injury and opted to forego Tommy John surgery, in an effort to be ready for the 2021 season opener. At time of writing, all signs point to him being ready to go from the start, but keep an eye on that as your fantasy baseball draft date nears.
At his current price, he’s one of my personal favorite value picks at the first base position. His power is excellent, and I believe there is a path to 40 home runs for Hoskins. His floor is in the low-30s and Philadelphia should give him every opportunity to get 100 RBI. The room for profiting on Hoskins is immense, and he seems like a steal at his current ADP. Believe it or not, he’s one of my “must have” guys this fantasy baseball season.