Rhys Hoskins is known for his patience at the plate.
But the Philadelphia Phillies first baseman didn’t draw a walk in this season’s first six games.
“I’d rather be a hitter,” he said Friday.
That’s exactly what Hoskins has done so far. He began Friday with six doubles, a home run, a .417 batting average and a .417 on-base percentage. The Phillies (5-1) started a seven-game road trip in Atlanta against the Braves on Friday night.
“I didn’t miss pitches,” Hoskins said of his fast start. “I didn’t miss pitches in the zone. Usually that’s a good thing for us hitters.”
Hoskins said he felt things begin to click the last week of spring training. The average exit velocity on the 18 balls he’s hit this season is 92.1 mph, the highest mark of his career and up from 89.8 mph last season.
“I think the consistent hard contact has been most impressive to me,” manager Joe Girardi said Friday. “It seems like every ball he’s hitting is a rocket.”
Hoskins has had his share of success and troubles at the plate since making his big league debut in August 2017. He hit 18 home runs in his first 50 games.
In 41 games last season, he hit 10 home runs and had a .384 on-base percentage and a .503 slugging percentage. That was a comeback for him. He finished 2019 mired in a slump that saw him bat .180 with a .318 on-base percentage and a .361 slugging percentage in the season’s second half.
Much has been made in the past of swing changes Hoskins has made.
“I’ve become a lot more aware of what I’m trying to do in my swing,” Hoskins said. “What happens when it goes wrong? I can usually pinpoint within an at-bat or within a game. I can think back in my head and (say), ‘OK, that’s where I went wrong. This is the solution that’s worked in the past.’ The swing hasn’t changed a whole lot. The swing is still the swing. I just have a little bit more room for error now.”
Hoskins didn’t spend much time working on his swing this offseason. He spent most of the winter rehabilitating an elbow injury that ended his 2020 season and required surgery. The injury occurred when he tried to tag Miami Marlins runner Corey Dickerson during a Sept. 12 game.
“This is a guy who had to work his tail end off during the offseason just to be ready to play,” Girardi said. “I wasn’t sure how much work he got in offensively compared to a normal offseason because you’re focusing so much on his rehab. I love the production we’re getting from him. That’s what we were getting last year before he got hurt, and you just hope it continues.”
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