Rhys Hoskins is going to be an All Star

Here’s another article submitted by one our readers.  As always, neither the statistical opinions stated in a submitted article nor the interpretations of same are those of the staff here at Phuture Phillies.  But, in this case, I’m hoping V is right.  And would be hard pressed to argue from a contrarian point of view.

Rhys Hoskins is Going to be an All Star

by V1again

Everyone should be very excited about Rhys Hoskins. He is going to make a major impact on the Phillies club. Once they finally put him at First, the Phillies are replacing a negative WAR player with someone whom I believe will be a routine 4-6 WAR player. Here is my argument…

As I routinely say, I am not a scout. I don’t pretend to be a scout. I have followed minor league prospects for 20+ years and have noticed patterns. I am sharing these patterns with you as food for thought.

My theory on judging a hitting prospect is simple…if you can’t dominate minor league pitchers, you are not going to do well against major league pitchers. Thus I believe statistics, especially at the higher levels matter a lot. Sometimes prospect blossom late. But a prospect has to hit really, really well before reaching the majors no matter how good his tools are.

Stats are not 100% predictors either way (hello Don Brown). But I think that you would be hard pressed to find a high quality major league regular who did not do well in AA and AAA, with the exception of an injury year. Great hitters just have a way of barreling the ball.

When I look at statistical profiles I focus on:

  1. K rates. I think it is really important that you can make contact. I don’t have empirical data on this, but I believe sub 20% is good and sub 15% is elite.
  2. Walk rates. I think it is really important that you can lay off bad pitches.  I don’t have empirical data on this, but I believe over 10% is good and over 14% is elite.
  3. L/R splits. If you can’t hit minor league left handers, it ain’t going to happen in the majors
  4. BABIP driven stats. The average BABIP is .320. Power and Speed guys will have a higher BABIP than average power and speed players, but you should be skeptical of stats on a player who doesn’t have elite power or speed and has a BABIP over .370. The stats of that player are likely to regress.
  5. OPS. A good summary stat.

That approach is supported by this article that indicates the highest correlation between stats and WAR. http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/basic-hitting-metric-correlation-1955-2012-2002-2012/. It is a very good article. Notice how lowly correlated batting average is? K rates, walk rates and power are all highly correlated to WAR. Yes, I see BABIP low on this list.

Ok, so with that background, here is a list of players:

  • 24 or younger in AAA International League over the last 10 years with an OPS over .950: Rhys Hoskins. (That’s right, he stands alone over the last 10 years.)
  • So let’s look at the Pacific League. The PCL has averaged a higher OPS than the International League every year over the past 5 years (likely longer, but I didn’t look).  Over the last 5 years, the average PCL OPS is 53 basis points higher than the International League. So here is a list of players 24 years or younger with an OPS over 1.000 in the PCL: Joc Pederson, Adam Eaton, Anthony Rizzo, Sean Rodriguez, Geovany Soto. Happened 5 times in 10 years.
  • So now let’s now look at the Walk rates, K rates and BABIP of those players:
    • Rhys Hoskins: 13.5% / 15.8% /.281
    • Joc Pederson: 18.1% / 26.9% / .385
    • Adam Eaton: 9.4% / 12.1% / .432
    • Anthony Rizzo: 10.4% /  21.5% / .369
    • Sean Rodriguez: 11.7% / 27.4% / .364
    • Geovany Soto: 11.8% / 20.9% / .401
  • Ok, so the net of this is, of all of the players that have played AAA at 24 years old or younger over the past 10 years:
    • Rhys had an 83 point lower BABIP than anyone else with a comparable OPS. 83 points lower! If you don’t understand how good this is, this means Rhys is really, really good.
    • Only Adam Eaton had a lower K rate
    • Only Joc Pederson had a higher walk rate

It is not an exaggeration to say Rhys has had the best AAA hitting season for any player his age or younger over the past 10 years. Possibly longer, I stopped looking.

I have said in the past a few trends that I have noticed:

  • K rate typically goes up 4-6% from AAA to majors. (Rizzo’s has gone down considerably)
  • Walk rate typically stay about the same.
  • Power goes up with age.

So what does Rhys’ profile look like? Using the fangraphs scouting grade chart: he seems like 60 hit, 65/70 power. That folks, is a star. Who has a similar profile? IMO, Rhys comps to Anthony Rizzo. I know Rizzo was a few years younger than Rhys at AAA but I think they are very comparable players. Rizzo is a star. A middle of the order bat on a Championship caliber team. A multiple time all-star. I think Rhys will be that guy. Get excited!

P.s. I realize that this is an extremely bold prediction that opens me to future criticism if I am wrong. And I also realize how hard it is to predict the future. But let’s have a little fun with a big prediction.

54 thoughts on “Rhys Hoskins is going to be an All Star

  1. First V1, Thanks for this write up. It was fun reading. I hope you are right! His 3 HRs in SD, not exactly a hitter’s ballpark!, were great to see. I think, as you do, that he will play more at 1B, and he gives us someone to be excited about the rest of the season.

      1. Thanks V1. Big Hoskins fan. Thanks for reinforcing my beliefs. He’s going to be a core piece of the rebuild.

  2. Thanks – I very much enjoyed reading this analysis. I generally agree with your sentiments, although I think you are underplaying, a bit, the importance of the age of prospects in your analysis – a data point that does not help Rhys. That said, I still generally agree the Rhys should be the type of player that you project because he has already performed at such a high level in AAA. In other words, you don’t need to project much improvement with Rhys in order to translate his performance from AA to the majors. Even if he stays the same or just improves slightly, he should still be a heck of a player.

    1. Agreed. Rizzo was a star in the majors at Hoskins’ age. I’m not saying Hoskins won’t be a star, just that Rizzo is not the right picture to have in one’s mind.

  3. Bold statements, backed up by sound logic… are you sure you are a Phillies phan? 🙂 … Anyways, I agree. While the stats make a nice argument, he also passes the eye test. He is able to pickup a low and outside pitch right out of the hand of the pitcher. He doesn’t even flinch. Too me, that speaks volumes for why his stats are where they are. His pitch recognition is leaps and bounds over anything I’ve seen around this town in a long time. The ball is being released and he just relaxes, knowing it is not his pitch.

    No doubt about it, he is a cog for team going forward. I’m happy for the team and the phans that have endored this teams poor pics. Whoever picked Hoskins, deserved a lot of credit

  4. Can see Hoskins as a 25/30oWAR career player.
    And 3 or 4WAR annual.
    Is that a star? Possibly, however MLB first basemen have a higher offensive bar to be judged by. His defense will probably be suspect in the eyes of the national writers.

      1. Fangraphs ..projected at, based on his SSS….would be 2.3WAR….and that is just as a rookie MLB 20 PA player so far.
        Can he reach Goldey’s offensive heights….why not!
        One can wish.

  5. Thanks for doing this v1.

    I think he’s a first-division regular, and will have a few years in the 4-6 WAR range, which would make him an All-Star at least a couple of times. Very excited about him.

  6. V1, really enjoy your articles and insights. Hope all our dreams come true on Hoskins. If you haven’t already, and I missed it, would like to read your thoughts on Tocci who just got to AAA this afternoon. I’ve always liked him but think I am in the minority.

      1. v1,

        As a guy who became a big Hoskins fan when he was with the Threshers, I am certainly am heartened by your analysis.

        You mentioned Tocci. I followed Tocci for a couple of years at Clearwater and saw big improvement last year. He was doing all the fundamental things right, as well as gliding gracefully through the outfield.

        I would be interested in your take on Tocci. Even more timely now that he’s at Lehigh Valley.

  7. V1 – very nice writeup – thank you. You named the one player, Rizzo, that he reminds me of to a tee. What I have liked about him so far is that he has very quiet at bats, no fidgeting or excess arm movement. That impresses me because I think it reveals his concentration and focus. I know we have seen him have a number of “nervous” AB’s looking for that first hit and likely pressing but it seems to be dissipating. What I find most amusing about him is he has never been – until now – recognized by any national media group/scouts for any reason. It seems he has always been considered just organization filler. How amusing ! Thanks.

  8. While I somewhat understand how BABIP is used to measure performance (and that it is often misinterpreted by fans), it’s still a bit muddy to me. I’m a bit confused here and would benefit from some further explanation:

    “Rhys had an 83 point lower BABIP than anyone else with a comparable OPS. 83 points lower! If you don’t understand how good this is, this means Rhys is really, really good.”

    Does this mean that Hoskins lower BABIP indicated he had some tough luck and could/should see those numbers increase? (just like if it was abnormally high we could expect it to revert).

    Thanks to anyone who can enlighten me!


    1. Yes, that is exactly what it means. His numbers, while insanely good, were produced with bad luck. Someone with his power would expect a babip of .320 – .350 on average. Which means that his batting average should be much higher than it was, which of course flows through to the OPS. If you can put up great numbers with a low BABIP, that is very good.

    2. He will go into more specific….but over a large sampling size…years…think .350 to .375/380 as the best of hitters. Rarely does anyone ever go over .385. The faster the player also affects it….beating out more hits..And LD (line drives) > than GBs (ground balls) which are > than FBs (flyballs).
      Hoskins does not have that advantage of speed but a higher LD%
      . There is more that he can go into on it.

      1. BABIP is the most misused stat in baseball.

        A player averaging a high babip is not an indication of a great hitter, it’s an indication of a great single’s hitter or good hitters with very high K-rates.

        Great hitters with power generally have low BABIP’s. Albert Pujols won MVP awards with a BABIP under .300. The year Barry Bonds hit 73 hrs his BABIP was .266.

        Why, because they rarely struck out and they hit a lot of balls over the fence rather than putting them in play.

        1. I should add that I do think that Hoskins is probably a bit unlucky in that his average should be higher but he’s also someone who I expect would have a lower BABIP, especially this season since he’s hit lots of HRs and has a low strikeout rate.

  9. Thanks V1 for the uplifting info. I too believe that Hoskins can continue to improve over what we already see. I do think he will need some protection in the lineup, preferably runners on base ahead of him (I am looking at you Kingery and JPC) so he cant be thrown bunch of unhittable junk.Could be a fun ride.

  10. I think that this BABIP projection is quite optimistic. Power doesn’t necessarily mean higher BABIP, his high flyball batted ball profile leans towards a lower than average BABIP in fact. LD rate is pretty fluky but he hasn’t shown an above average one in his minor league career. .280 is probably a reasonable BABIP for him going forward, given his flyball tendencies and his speed

    1. Yes, but if that equates to his results this year, that is excellent. I think the larger point is that he didn’t do well in AAA because he got lucky in his batted ball outcomes.

  11. Excellent write-up, v1.

    Fangraphs, in a piece titled “K% and W%,” uses these figures for MLB players:

    Rating K% BB%
    Excellent 10.0% 15.0%
    Great 12.5% 12.5%
    Above Average 16.0% 10.0%
    Average 20.0% 8.0%
    Below Average 22.0% 7.0%
    Poor 25.0% 5.5%
    Awful 27.5% 4.0%

    1. This is why there are some concerns about Kingery not being promoted too quickly (who I LOVE as a prospect and who I think will be at least an above average major league player) – his K% and BB% numbers are in the Poor range. I think another 200 ABs in AAA would be good for him.

      I always marvel at how people complain about the Phillies not promoting prospects quickly enough. My view is that, even when a guy is temporarily blocked – as Hoskins was this year for a time – it’s rare that a guy spends more than an extra month or two more at a level when he is ready for a promotion. And why not be safe than sorry? Hoskins was interviewed yesterday and said he thought the extra time in AAA was helpful in that he made some adjustments over the last month or so that he believes have helped him make the transition quickly to the majors.

      People also complained about Utley and Howard being in the minors too long, but when they arrived in the big leagues ready to produce. What’s so wrong with that?

      1. And, by the way, I am in no way suggesting that Kingery is performing poorly at AAA, only that improving those percentages are going to help him as a hitter at the big league level and not addressing those issues in the minors is going to make it more difficult for him to excel in the majors.

        But do I think he can and will do it? Yes, I think Kingery is not only a great talent, but he has single-minded drive and desire to be a great player. He will do whatever is necessary to succeed, and I believe he will.

        As I said, Kingery might not be our best prospect, but he’s in the top 2 or 3 and I think he could be our most important prospect. Philadelphia will fall in love with this guy – he’s got it all.

        1. Kingery by far is the prospect,I mean He hits for avg ,power, he has speed and above avg Defense.. he’s lead off in Co!lege every level of pro ball. Say he walks 10 times in the next 6 days .

  12. Great work, V1! Solid article, backed up with facts to support your opinion and not the other way around.

    Rhys seems to pass the eye test as well. His mechanics are very quiet, barely any bat waggle, generates good torque, knows how to use his legs, can go down and get an outside pitch, but always seems to maintain his balance, and finally he has a very smooth and subtle leg kick for timing.

    Man would it be nice if we had a less athletic version of Paul Goldschmidt on our hands…

  13. Two big if’s

    But IF Hoskins can turn out to Ben what v1again (and me) think he can be and if Crawford somehow keeps up this increased power profile while also getting on base at this same clip in the majors then the rebuild suddenly looks way more promising

    That would give us the 2 hitter and cleanup or 5th hitter needed for a nice lineup

  14. Dear Pukman ,
    In regards to keep posts about Mickey Mo and his under proforming . A TOR Pitcher goes deep into games Puk hasn’t . He avg start is a little over 5 ings in fact he’s been over 5 ings just twice in his last 10 starts. See that’s way some teams didn’t him the first Rd. Command & Control issue’ s plus a pitch count. His AA season 5.36 era 45 ing 45 hits 21 balls 61 k,s . That’s 66 base runners not good in AA. His Bill James baseball scores in his last couple of games 55 ,47,76,57,48,60. Same thing as college alot of K’s and nothing else. He might need another yr in AA to gain a 3 pitch and more control Command. Then to AAA in 2019 for Polish .

  15. Great Note!

    I would think that Hoskin’s persistency of results would also be a very good sign. Some guys have one great year in the minors, but aren’t up to the MLB standards.

    In 2015 he was 4th in OPS of players over 250 AB’s in the South Atlantic League.
    In 2015 he was 1st in OPS of players over 250 AB’s in the Florida State League.
    In 2016 he was 1st in OPS of Qualified Players in the Eastern League.
    In 2017 he should finish 1st in OPS of Qualified Players in the International League.

    In part he got overlooked because he was a little old for a top prospect in A and A+. His 2016 stats were in doubt because of the Reading ball park (although he was also tops in the park adjusted wRC+). I don’t think there are any qualifiers around 2017. So far so good in his SSS MLB start.

    I think a good case can be made he is the Phillies #1 prospect given his proximity to the majors and consistent minor league results.

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