BALTIMORE — Once it was revealed that Rhys Hoskins would participate in his first Home Run Derby next Monday in Washington, D.C., the obligatory talking point came up: Will the derby negatively affect Hoskins' swing?
It's a question that gets asked every summer to every player who competes in the event because of the notable cases of players struggling in the second half after cranking homers in the derby.
The most relevant Phillies example was Bobby Abreu in 2005, when he set a then-derby record with 24 home runs before hitting just six in 73 games after the All-Star break.
But for every Abreu-like example, there's a player whose power didn't fall off a cliff after he participated. It's a lot like the constant arguing over infield shifts. Most observers tend to notice the trend only when it's negative, only when it doesn't work.
Count Gabe Kapler among the non-believers in the Home Run Derby curse.
"I understand why people think about that but I think it's a story that the baseball world tells itself," Kapler said Thursday before the Phillies took on the Orioles.
"Ryan Howard is a perfect example. Ryan Howard competes in a Home Run Derby, wins a Home Run Derby, hits a bazillion home runs in the second half. As many cases as you can find on the side of a guy's swing not being perfect after the Home Run Derby, you can find as many cases of a guy excelling in the second half.
"I don't believe that the act of participating in a Home Run Derby makes your swing worse."
For a more detailed explanation of why the Derby curse is overblown, take a look at this piece from MLB.com's Mike Petriello.
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Remember back on Phillies opening day 2019 when the team used a logo extremely similar to the Dallas Cowboys' star on the jumbotron and everybody freaked out?
Well, it seems we have a reprise of that situation today but in hat form.
We bring these questionable caps to you today via a reddit post aptly titled, "On no.... please god no..." which shows images of a new Philadelphia Phillies hat made by New Era that is currently being sold.
Philly fans absolutely hate it. Not only does it cloesly resemble the Dallas star, it's also just kind of ugly.
The hat is part of the New Era Elements Collection where they take something smaller from the team's actual logo and make it the main thing on a hat. The Cincinnati Reds used a mustache which is awesome. The Baltimore Orioles' smily bird looks pretty cool.
And then there's this very bad Phillies hat.
It's pretty obvious they are highlighting the star from the middle of the 'P' which is blown up on the front of the cap and featured relatively normal size on the back of the fitted cap, but it's still way too similar to the Dallas Cowboys' star for most in Philadelphia's liking.
It's unclear if these hats will ever get anywhere near the actual baseball team. Let's hope not.
Leading up to baseball’s winter meetings, we will take a daily look at some of the game’s top free agents and how they could potentially impact the Phillies.
Today, we check in on slugging third baseman Josh Donaldson.
Donaldson has been one of the game’s premier sluggers the last half-dozen seasons. He’s an above-average defender at third base and an outstanding competitor. He has belted at least 33 homers in four of the last five seasons and led the American League with 123 RBIs in 2015, the year he won the AL MVP for Toronto. He battled injury in 2017 and 2018, signed a one-year, $23 million contract with Atlanta a year ago and went on to prove himself healthy by finishing 11th in the National League MVP voting in 2019. He played 155 games for the Braves and hit .259 with 37 homers, 94 RBIs and a .900 OPS.
Why he fits
At a position loaded with sluggers, Donaldson is still one of the best and the Phillies have a big need. Phillies third basemen ranked 24th in OPS (.725) and batting average (.243) and 22nd in homers (23) among big-league clubs in 2019. Donaldson’s fiery style of play would quickly win him fans in Philadelphia.
Why he doesn’t fit
The injury history, coupled with his age — he turns 34 in December — would be a concern on the long-term deal he is seeking, especially when the Phillies have a young third base prospect, Alec Bohm, scheduled to play at Triple A in 2020. Donaldson is one of three big third basemen on the free-agent market with Anthony Rendon and Mike Moustakas. The Phillies have already shown an interest in Moustakas, whose price tag could still allow the team to pump significant resources into pitching.
The price tag
Donaldson jumped quickly at a one-year deal last year. That won’t happen this year. He is said to be looking for at least three years and you have to figure the average annual value will be in the neighborhood of $25 million. If Donaldson keeps producing like he did in 2019, he’d be worth it.
“He loves to play. And when he’s healthy, he’s a major difference maker. There’s value in that power. The concern for me would be that it’s a long season and he could fit more in the American League because of the DH.”
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