2018 Player Profile: Rhys Hoskins
Ray Flowers' award-winning Player Profiles are here for the 2018 MLB Season! One purchase gets you all of them, so don't miss a word of the action--subscribe to the 2018 MLB Draft Guide here! And it's not just the Player Profiles you'll get...subscribing to the Draft Guide gives you full access to Ray's Rankings (Mixed, AL, NL), Draft Strategies and Tools, Stat Analysis, Reflections, Research and more! Take a look at all the content we have available already! Subscribe to the 2018 MLB Draft Guide here and you can even download a full PDF copy!
Rhys Hoskins is being drafted as if he’s a fantasy star. Not that he will be, mind you, but that he already is a fantasy star. Plenty of folks have had a great 50 game run to start their careers and then disappeared. Will that be the fate of the Phillies slugger?
25 years old
Height/Weight: 6’4”, 225 lbs
Position: First Base/Outfield
There have long been debates about the outlook of Hoskins. Never looked at as an elite prospect, there have been many who like the skills and others who thought he was merely a mistake hitter. Those in the negative camp also worry about a somewhat long and stiff swing and the fact that he isn’t overly athletic is an issue too. He’s hit everywhere, even in the big leagues last season, but there are still questions... like can he handle elite level stuff and will pitchers be able to exploit the holes in his swing? Despite those concerns, his absurdly high ADP as of this writing is intact (more on that below).
Though he appeared in 50 games, folks think they know who Hoskins is. Do we? Let’s play the sample size game briefly. Let’s look at some slash line numbers while playing fun with sample sizes.
50 Games: .259/.396/.618
Final 32 games: .236/.390/.491
Final 25 games: .207/.374/.476
Final 20 games: .182/.341/.409
So, let me ask you... why are you so convinced that he’s the first 25 game guy (.307/.419/.750 with 12 homers) and not the second 25 game guy (.207/.374/.476 with six homers)? Why?
Even if we look in total at who he was I don’t see a skill set that is appreciably different than a guy like Carlos Santana.
Let’s break things down, starting with power.
Hoskins hit 18 homers in 50 games, and he’s being drafted as if 35 homers is a lock this season. Is it?
Hoskins has a 45 percent fly ball rate for his career. That’s a big number and it is one that can sustain a large homer total. His fly ball rate in 2016 at Double-A was 52 percent, and the number was 49 percent at Triple-A in 2017. He hits a lot of balls into the air.
Let’s talk fly ball conversion rates. In 2016 the mark at Double-A was 20 percent. In 2017 the mark at Triple-A was 18.2 percent. Let’s call it 19 percent for the two levels. Amongst guys that qualified for the batting title last season, there were 144 of them, 37 men posted a mark of 19 percent in the HR/FB category. It’s a big number, but it seems sustainable for Hoskins.
In the 21st century, there have been 14 seasons – by every player in baseball – with a HR/FB ratio of 30 percent (minimum 502 plate appearances). Obviously, that’s less than one per season. I bring this up because last season Hoskins posted a mark of 31.6 percent. It’s not a sustainable pace, not close. History tells us that. Hoskins own record tells us that (players establish their own rates). He is going to see major pull back in this number this season. This is the most obvious reason to expect that run to 35 that you’re all dreaming of to be a challenging one to pull off. Oh yeah, it’s also kinda unlikely that he’s gonna continue his onslaught against lefties that included six homers in 41 at-bats (a homer every 6.8 at-bats). That’s just common sense.
Amongst players with 100 batted balls last season, Hoskins mark of 90.8 mph was 16th best. Seems a bit high to me, ditto the 21st best barrel rate of 8.0 barrels per nine. Not suggesting he doesn’t hit the ball hard, that just seems a wee bit elevated.
Let’s talk batting average.
The first thing you notice is that he hit .171 against lefties. He hit .273 against lefties in Triple-A in 2017, and .277 at Double-A in 2016, but the big leagues is a completely different animal (remember above, those that worried about Hoskins also worried about his ability to handle elite stuff). I’m not drawing any conclusions from 41 at-bats, but it is something to monitor.
The next thing you notice is that he mashed hard stuff, but that he had no clue what to do with the soft stuff. Check out this table from Brooks Baseball and pay particular attention to the changeup and curveball numbers. Don’t think that major league teams have failed to notice.
Teams will challenge him with off-speed stuff this year.
Remember the fly balls? If he maintains his 45 percent fly ball rate, which seems like a number he is comfortable with, batting average is gonna be tough. Of the 15 qualifiers with a mark that high last season, two hit .300 (Justin Turner and Anthony Rendon). Of the other 13, none hit .275.
Hoskins pulled the ball 49.2 percent of the time which obviously is an aid to the power numbers. However, it could be death to batting average. Only five men had a 49 percent pull rate and they hit .209, .204, .271, .259 and .278.
Let’s talk contact rates. Hoskins had an 81.4 contact rate (contact/swings). Amongst players with 200 plate appearances last season, there were 349 of them, that rate was 98th. However, the mark was below 70 percent in September, and that’s a big concern. Remember, there were concerns about pitchers finding holes in his swing and exploiting them.
Hoskins had a .241 BABIP last season. He hits the ball hard enough that one would think the number should be much higher, even with his lack of foot speed. Still, his 2016 (.297) and 2017 (.281) marks don’t suggest that mark is going to vault upwards this season beyond the league average.
He does walk, his 17.5 percent mark last season led to an impressive 0.80 BB/K ratio, but that really is about the only positive here when we’re talking about batting average. Truth is, he should be expected to hit appreciably better than the .259 he hit last season. Again, think Carlos Santana. Speaking of him...
Hoskins appeared 29 times in the outfield last season and 21 times at first base. After the addition of Carlos Santana this offseason, the plan appears to be to have Rhys play every day in the outfield this season with Santana handling first base.
AVERAGE DRAFT POSITION DATA
As of this writing, here is the ADP data for Hoskins.
The 7th spot in the rankings is for first base. He’s 14th in the outfield rankings.
Both spots are absurd.
Hoskins is being drafted just ahed of Edwin Encarnacion, you know, the guy who the last six years has averaged .269-38-110-91.
The truth is that the fantasy numbers that Hoskins is likely to produce in 2018 do not stand out in any appreciable way for a first baseman or an outfielder. I’ve made the mention earlier, and I’ll stand by it; Hoskins is basically Carlos Santana with slightly more power. No one is stoked to draft Santana, but because Hoskins is young, sexy and unknown, people are disregarding the most basic of basics – who Hoskins actually is. At his current ADP he would have to go .275-35-100-90 to warrant his draft day cost. Is that likely to occur? Even if it does, the last seven years Jay Bruce has gone an average of .246-30-94-80 and his ADP is 163.8. So, I ask again, why are you so bullish on Rhys Hoskins?
10-Team Mixed: You shouldn’t be drafting him in this setup given the cost. Period.
12-Team Mixed: He’s a corner infielder here. He won’t be drafted there though, so you have to decide if you want to ignore what is written above, or not.
15-Team Mixed: He’s startable at first here. However, there are better options given the cost. Hoskins really is one of those players this season. By that, I mean a guy whose cost is so darn high that an upside return has little chance of being there. You’re much better off taking a guy 3-8 rounds later with a similar outlook for the season. Just common sense in my book.
NL-Only League: In this setup you cannot have a top-5 pick miss. If you spend a third-round pick on Hoskins and he is indeed Carlos Santana... or even Jay Bruce... that’s a miss.