Rhys Hoskins Philadelphia Phillies #17 Jerseys

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Rhys Hoskins Philadelphia Phillies #17 Jerseys

Post by admin » Mon Jan 06, 2020 3:02 am

Heading into the 2020 season, there is the great Phillies mystery — the mystery of Rhys Hoskins.

For nearly two years — starting with his sensational debut in August 2017 when he smashed 11 home runs in his first 18 games — Hoskins had legit beast status. A right-handed bat that blended patience with power. And seemed like the perfect pairing with lefty slugger Bryce Harper.

Then came the last three months of Hoskins’ 2019 season. One word: Ugh. More like: Ugly. Post All-Star break, Hoskins hit .180 with 9 home runs and 26 RBI in 71 games and 255 at-bats. Such a blazing free-fall led us to wonder: What’s wrong with Rhys? But we never got answers. Never heard of any injury. All we got was The Power of Positive Thinking by Phillies manager Gabe Kapler. Here’s what Kapler shoveled to us mid-September regarding Hoskins’ epic slump: “As long as he’s healthy and strong, he’ll be in the lineup for us. I believe he’s our best option always. I believe he’s among our best weapons every single day.” And Gabe Kapler has been fired.

Speaking of fired, remember John Mallee? No? The Phils’ hitting coach from 2018 to ‘19? Still no? But you do remember Charlie Manuel, and Manuel, at 75 years old, ditched chillin’ in semi-retirement to replace Mallee on Aug. 13 of last year, with a clear (yet unspoken) assignment: Fix Rhys.

If Hoskins were on pace in August for 38-100-.275, would Mallee have been sacked? Probably not. The firing of Mallee raised loud questions. Did Mallee and his maze of analytics screw up Hoskins? Would Uncle Cholly’s Yoda wisdom of clubbing a baseball bring back the old Rhys? Well, put it this way, the Phillies needed the real Yoda to help the hapless Hoskins, who hit .170 with 4 home runs and 10 RBI in September. After the season, Manuel went back into chillin’, and the Phillies in November announced the hiring of new hitting coach Joe Dillon, the assistant hitting coach for World Series champion Washington Nationals.

Priority No. 1 for Dillon will be to resurrect the old Hoskins. But who is Dillon? “The best assistant in baseball” is how Nationals lead hitting coach Kevin Long described him. Dillon, 44, is another analytics guy but, unlike Mallee who preached a universal approach to his system, Dillon doesn’t force-feed one style on every hitter. He’s known for a cognitive-based approach to hitting. Dillon recently discussed Hoskins’ struggles with the Philadelphia Inquirer: “All of baseball knows that he did struggle a little bit the last half of last year. I’ve looked at some things, but I haven’t really delved into it yet... It’s definitely on the docket to dive into him.”

New Phillies manager Joe Girardi released a statement on the hiring of Dillon: “I was impressed with Joe’s knowledge of swing mechanics and his ideas on how you combat today’s power pitchers. He has great drills to use to prepare hitters for velocity.”

One of Dillon’s drills is using machines to throw specific pitches on different angles and planes to replicate game conditions and train the batter’s eye to make split-second decisions. Unlike traditional batting practice, when batters swing at virtually everything.

The Nationals’ Trea Turner and Ryan Zimmerman reportedly swore by Dillon’s cognitive-based system while Harper, when he and Dillon were on the 2018 Nationals together, chose to do his own thing.

In 2020, we will find out if Dillon can fix Hoskins. Or if Hoskins can fix Hoskins. Or the Phillies best call Yoda.

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