Rhys’ Pieces: Can Hoskins put it all together in 2021?

Breaking down the best hitting performances from yesterday’s games.

Rhys Hoskins (PHI): 3-5, 2 2B, 1 HR, 2 R, 1 RBI.

It seems like people have been waiting for Rhys Hoskins to break out in a big way since he first buttoned up his Phillies jersey in 2017. Hoskins has been serviceable for the Phils but just hasn’t turned into a star the way many have expected him to. The low point for Hoskins was in 2019, where his .215 expected batting average put him in the bottom 5% of the league in that category. He bounced back nicely last season, improving his barrel rate from 9.7% in 2019 to 14.8% in 2020.

The sample size is extremely small so this should be taken with a mound of salt, but Hoskins is scorching hot to start off the 2021 season. He will come down to earth a bit at some point but is checking all of the boxes that lead to sustainable offensive production. His hard-hit rate is 66.7% and he has an xwOBA of .397. If Hoskins continues hitting the ball hard as he did last night, a game in which he went 3-5, 2 2B, 1 HR, 2 R, 1 RBI, he is going to tear it up the rest of the season.

While no one is expecting Hoskins to continue to hit north of .400, both fantasy managers and Phillies fans hope he can finally become the star they have been waiting for. As long as his production does not fall off the side of a cliff, Hoskins is in a good position to finish the season as a top 10 first baseman.

Let’s see how the rest of the league fared on Wednesday:

Ronald Acuña Jr. (ATL): 3-4, 1 2B, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 SB. (doubleheader G1).

Making his second consecutive appearance in this column is superstar center fielder Ronald Acuña Jr. Fantasy managers who drafted Acuña expect nothing less than elite production, and over the last two days, he has delivered. Just a day after taking Nationals ace Max Scherzer deep twice, Acuña put together another multi-hit game. His average exit velo so far this season is 92.4 mph, good for 14th in the league right now.

Starlin Castro (WSH): 3-4, 1 2B, 3 RBI. (doubleheader G1).

The Nationals third baseman provided the Washington offense with a spark in the first game of yesterday’s doubleheader. Castro drove in a run in each of his three hits. With 3 RBI, Castro accounted for half of Washington’s offense in the 7-6 loss. This was just the Nationals’ second game of the season after dealing with covid issues. The team would go on to get shut out 2-0 in the second game of the doubleheader.

Jose Ramirez (CLE): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI.

Ramirez was judge, jury, and executioner in the soon-to-be-renamed Indians 4-2 win over the Kansas City Royals last night. He drove in all four of Cleveland’s runs by way of two two-run home runs, the latter of which came during a tie game in the bottom of the eighth. Ramirez has run up a five-game hitting streak to start the season, giving his fantasy managers hope that his 2020 season was more than a hot 60-game stretch.

Xander Bogaerts (BOS): 3-3, 2 R, 1 RBI.

The eyes of the sports world may be on Xander Schauffle as he looks to win his first major at Augusta, but the eyes of Boston were dead set on Xander Bogaerts in his perfect performance at the plate last night. The Red Sox shortstop picked up singles in each of his three at-bats, driving in one and scoring two. Since starting the season 1-for-12, Bogaerts has hits in eight of his last 12 at-bats and is back to looking like his old self.

Dylan Carlson (STL): 1-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 4 RBI.

St. Louis’ 2016 first-round pick had his first “Major League” moment last night. Carlson walked up to the plate in the top of the ninth with the bases loaded and his team holding a slim lead. He worked the count full and proceeded to unload on a 94 mph cookie thrown by Zach Pop. Coincidentally, that was the sound the ball made as it popped off the bat and sailed over the right-center fence for Carlson’s first career grand slam.

Darin Ruf (SF): 2-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 SB.

As an avid fan of the KBO, it is an honor to be placing Darin Ruf in this column. Ruf has played for the Samsung Lions from 2017-2019 and earned himself a minor league contract with the Giants in the summer of 2020. In typical KBO fashion, Ruf was responsible for the wackiest play of the night. He hit his first home run of the year last night, a fly ball to deep center field that bounced off of ex-Yankee prospect Jorge Mateo’s glove and over the wall for a two-run shot.

Jonathan Villar (NYM): 3-5, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 R.

Jonathan Villar did not disappoint in his Mets debut. New York gave Jeff McNeil the day off yesterday, and Villar stepped in like he never left. The second baseman hit a single, a double, and a triple, falling just a home run short of the cycle in his first start of the season. Villar is not set to be an everyday player for the Mets, but he is one injury away from being a key cog in a strong lineup.

Kyle Seager (SEA): 3-4, 1 2B, 1 R, 3 RBI.

Seager had his best offensive game of the season so far in the Mariners’ win over the White Sox. Seager grabbed three hits on the day, including a double. That double could not have come at a better time, as it came with the bases loaded, clearing the bases and giving Seattle the lead. The Mariners began the sixth inning trailing 4-1 then exploded for seven runs in the bottom half of the inning, never looking back and winning the game by a final of 8-4.

Lorenzo Cain (MIL): 2-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI.

After opting out of the 2020 season, Lorenzo Cain has returned to Milwaukee to play for the Brewers in 2021. One can only imagine how excited he is to get back on the field after not playing last year. Cain’s had a vintage performance last night, hitting two late-game home runs for the Brewers. His second home run gave his team a 4-1 lead in the tenth inning, they would go on to win the game 4-2.

Chris Owings (COL): 3-3, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 R, 2 RBI.

The Colorado second baseman was having an exceptional day at the plate yesterday, it is too bad he did not get to finish the game. Owings hit three extra-base hits in his three at-bats but left the game in the top of the sixth with hamstring soreness. The injury did not seem serious, but Rockies manager Bud Black chose to play it safe, saying “Hopefully, it will resolve itself overnight with some treatment. But he had a wonderful night, all right. Triple, two doubles, big night for C.O. — great sliding catch on a line drive [in the fifth], big part of the game.”

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