September 11, 2017
While you were outfitting yourself in your best midnight green and chugging down your beverage of choice on Sunday afternoon, the 24-year-old hitter who has changed the complexion of the Phillies lineup and has energized a dormant fan base was celebrating his one-month anniversary in the big leagues.
Rhys Hoskins hit in the cleanup spot and played left field on Sunday – his regular spots since his first weekend in the big leagues – in Washington against Stephen Strasburg and the soon-to-be National League East division champion Nationals. It wasn’t one of his better games: Hoskins went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. He slammed his bat angrily to the turf following his third strikeout in as many at-bats against Strasburg in the seventh inning … and two innings later, made the game’s final out with the game-tying run on base in a 3-2 defeat
The defeat was the Phillies major-league leading 35th by one run this season No other team has more than 27 one-run losses in 2017.
We’re surely not pinning Sunday’s loss on Hoskins, who has been brilliant in his first month in the major leagues. Before Sunday’s defeat, Hoskins had gone 3-for-6 with two home runs, five RBI, four walks, and two strikeouts in 10 plate appearances in the previous two games.
Hoskins has hit 14 home runs in his first 31 career games. No player has reached 14 home runs faster in major league history.
You probably know that by now, though, since it was only two weeks ago when the entire Delaware Valley (or, at the very least, all area sports fans) were enthralled by Hoskins daily dramatics. He hit 11 home runs in a 14-game span from Aug. 14 to Aug. 27, a two-week span that began and ended with his 5th and 18th career major league games, respectively.
No one expected the home runs to continue at that historic rate, of course.
But it’s not as if Hoskins has really slowed down in the two weeks since the long ball lunacy has taken a bit of a breather: in the 13 games since his Phillis franchise-tying run of homering in five straight games ended, Hoskins is slashing .295/.436/.568 with three home runs, three doubles, eight RBI, 10 walks and 13 strikeouts. Hoskins has reached base safely in 10 of those 13 games.
Since the Phillies are off tonight (it’s their second-to-last scheduled off day of the 2017 season), here are some more fun Hoskins facts (Rhys’s Pieces?) for your Monday:
• Hoskins’ 14 home runs are the most by any player in major league history who made his season debut on August 1 or later. The previous record holder? The man often referred to as the greatest hitter who ever lived, Ted Williams. The Splendid Splinter, though unlike Hoskins, was well into his career at the time (34-years-old, with nine All-Star appearances, four batting titles, and two MVPs already on his resume) when he returned to the Red Sox from the Korean War in the penultimate month of the 1953 season, hitting 13 home runs in 37 games.
• If Hoskins plays every game remaining on the Phillies schedule (which is possible, since he’s only sat just one game in his first month), he’d finish his rookie season with a nice round number, 50 major league games. The MLB record holders for most home runs ever through their first 50 career games? New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez and Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger, both with 19. So Hoskins would have to hit five home runs in the 19 games left on the Phils’ schedule to tie that mark, and six to break it.
• Hoskins already has the Phillies franchise record for most career home runs through 50 games. the previous record holder? Tommy Joseph hit 13 home runs in his first 50 major league games last year. Among other notable names on the all-time list of most home runs in 50 games: Jose Abreu, 17; Albert Pujols, Mark McGwire 16; Ryan Braun, 15; Evan Gattis, Paul DeJong, Miguel Sano, Aaron Judge, Trevor Story, 14; Frank Robinson, Willie McCovey, Carlos Correa, Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ, 13.
• Speaking of Gary Sanchez, this note from our buddy Ryan Spaeder, the best baseball stats guy on Twitter:
#Yankees Gary Sanchez is the first player to hit his 50th home run before his 162nd career game since Mark McGwire.— Ryan M. Spaeder (@theaceofspaeder) September 10, 2017
• As Spaeder notes, McGwire was the most efficient home run hitter in history, with a home run in 7.61 percent of his plate appearances in his career. Sanchez entered play Monday with a home run in 7.28 percent of his PAs. Hoskins? He’s hit home runs in 10.69 percent of his plate appearances. So make arrangements for more history at Citizens Bank Park the weekend of August 4-5 next year, right around the time Hoskins plays in his 162nd career game, right?
• The major league record holder for most career home runs before his 162nd career game is former Tigers slugger Rudy York, with 54. The Phillies record holder for most home runs before career game 162 is Chuck Klein, with 44. (If you’re curious about Klein’s power stroke, you probably don’t need to look much further than to check out a photo of the dimensions of the Baker Bowl). Ryan Howard was one behind Klein: 43 home runs in his first 161 games (but also in 20 fewer at-bats than Klein; Howard was utilized primarily as a pinch hitter as a September call-up in 2004.) Aaron Judge, like Howard, hit 43 home runs in his first 161 games. Current, 2017 MLB home runs leader Giancarlo Stanton hit 38 home runs in his first career 161 games.
• What did all of those guys do in their first 31 games, so we can compare them to Hoskins? In 1937, Rudy York had five home runs through his first 31 career games. Sanchez hit 11 home runs in his first career 31 games. Klein hit four home runs in his first 31 games. Howard hit three home runs in his first 31 games. Judge hit four home runs in his first 31 games. Stanton hit five home runs in his first 31 games.
• But perhaps the most intriguing thing that stands out about Hoskins through his first month in the big leagues is a trait he showed regularly in the minor leagues: his plate discipline. Here’s how Hoskins ranks with those same five players in their own first 31 games in strikeouts and walks:
Through 31 career games:
Nearly all of the above stats come courtesy a Play Index account at baseball-reference.com. If you're into baseball stats, I'd highly recommend you check them out.