Phillies

Phillies

The night Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 and the NBA shut down, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban remarked that he lives by a mantra that "life is 50% random." 

If 2020 isn't proof of that ...

Had baseball season started on time, the Phillies would be 11 games in. Rhys Hoskins would be almost two weeks into a crucial fourth big-league season in which he needed to bounce back. 

We saw a different look from Hoskins at the plate in spring training. Over the offseason, he adjusted his setup, lowering his hands and relaxing his arms while opening up his batting stance a bit. While Hoskins is not running himself ragged in the cage every day, he is continuing to work toward making the new setup and stance stick subconsciously.

"Towards the end of spring I was starting to get a little bit of rhythm with the adjustments I was making, which was frustrating to have it end," Hoskins told NBC Sports Philadelphia over the weekend. 

"I haven't hit a whole lot yet. There's a lot of dry work that goes on, a lot of dry repetitions just to continue that muscle memory. But this just gives me a little bit of time to really make it feel normal. Things like the setup or the initial move. You don't need a ball coming at you to really practice those things. 

"Those repetitions happen probably hundreds of times per day, in the middle of the kitchen, the driveway, the garage, just trying to keep myself occupied."

 

That's where we are, folks. You've got 30-home run hitters practicing their swings in the kitchen just like your everyday little-leaguer.

"I have to stay ready," Hoskins continued. "I'm essentially treating this like it's Thanksgiving of the offseason. As we progress, I'll progress just like I would in a normal offseason."

It's so obvious that it no longer needs to be said or written that the Phillies need Hoskins to rebound in 2020 to reach their ceiling. Despite the league-wide power surge in 2019 caused by the juiced baseball, Hoskins hit five fewer home runs in 45 more plate appearances than he had in 2018. His slugging percentage dipped from .496 to .454. He led the National League with 116 walks but also struck out 173 times and hit just .226.

It's a well-documented narrative. Already a pull-happy hitter, Hoskins was even more extreme in 2019 as his swing became more and more of an uppercut.

The Gabe Kapler-John Mallee tandem is long gone at this point, replaced by new manager Joe Girardi and new hitting coach Joe Dillon.

"Both of them have been great," Hoskins said. "I think there's a poise and professionalism that really is present throughout the whole staff but it obviously starts with Joe Girardi. He has kind of put that imprint on the rest of the staff in such a short time which obviously has me excited for what's to come when we get to spend a little more time around each other."

Soon, please.

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