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May 05, 2019

Rhys Hoskins' early case for MVP goes deeper than you think

Rhys Hoskins is playing at an MVP level.

If you're a betting man, it's worth taking a serious look at the Phillies big slugger — who currently holds 20-1 odds of winning the award (according to for best player in the National League. 

Cody Bellinger (5-2 to win the title) is obviously playing better. We aren't here to diminish his play. Though it's worth noting that it is extremely unlikely he'll be able to maintain his .403 batting average and replicate his 38 RBI and 14 homers over the ensuing five months of the regular season. He's bound to fall back to earth.

Christian Yelich (3-1) is also defending his 2018 MVP impressively and is the No. 2 man in the race for the award. But after that?

It's got to be Hoskins.

Though standard statistics seem to make Bellinger and Yelich look otherworldly, a glance at some interesting advanced metrics makes a very compelling case that Hoskins at least belongs in the conversation — and with a slight drop off from his competition could seriously contend for the award once won by Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins in back-to-back years.

First, a look at some more common batting statistics and how Hoskins measures up:

StatNL rank
Home runs113rd

Among NL hitters, Hoskins is right there in most categories. (He is behind Yelich and Bellinger in most of those). 

Hoskins impacts the Phillies offense in more ways that can be consumed from standard stats. Let's look a bit deeper:

 StatNL rank
 Pitches per plate appearance4.721st
3-1 counts seen331st
Offensive win percentage.8103rd
Adjusted batting wins1.43rd
Runs created 36 4th

Hoskins sees the most pitches per plate appearance of anyone in all of baseball with 4.72 and has forced pitchers to throw the second most pitches in total of any batter. He also has interestingly drawn the most 3-1 counts of any hitter in MLB. There are many reasons why the Phillies' lineup has been ultimately one of the most successful in baseball (when healthy) and a big part of it stems from Hoskins anchoring things in the 4-hole. He really forces a pitcher to work — which trickles down into the opposing hurler making mistakes, or getting tired or frustrated. 

Just a few days ago this happened:

Sure, making a pitcher throw more pitches is not a home run, or a walk, or something measurable in a box score to help a team win, but the 26-year-old has been extremely patient and consistent — and MVP is often a measure of the importance of a player value-wise to his respective team. 

Hoskins also, as we mention in the table above, is third in offensive win percentage: a fun advanced stat that measures how many games — against league average pitching and defense — a lineup of nine Hoskinses would win. An .810 win percentage is the third best in that stat group and would be substantially better than Philly's current .571 win percentage (20-15). 

Too bad there's only one Hoskins.

Adjusted batting wins is a lot like WAR, measuring how many wins a player is worth offensively compared to an average offensive player (who would be 0). In this category Hoskins too is immensely valued.

Hoskins has a long road to winning hardware. He not only needs to maintain his performance level (four hits last night lifted his average to .302) but also needs the spectacular performances of Yelich and Bellinger to subside. But even if he doesn't win an award for his play in 2019, Hoskins has the opportunity to show he is among the best in all of baseball this season — both in conventional and not so conventional ways.

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