If Rhys Hoskins bounces back in 2020 it will likely be because of mechanical adjustments, a clearer mind and a return of the confidence that comes with success.
One key area which requires improvement from Hoskins this season is his quality of contact on the first pitch.
Hoskins was too passive in 2019. He swung at the first pitch just 18.3% of the time, the lowest rate among all 69 National League players with at least 500 plate appearances.
Even worse were the results when Hoskins did put the first pitch in play. He hit just .256 on the first pitch compared to the league average of .354. Only two of his 29 home runs came on the first pitch.
Hoskins is a selective hitter, but some of the most patient players are selectively aggressive early in counts. Freddie Freeman is a perfect example. Freeman spits on pitches just off the plate and takes his walks, but last season he hit .429 with 16 extra-base hits when swinging at the first pitch. Bryce Harper had similar numbers, hitting .420 with 18 extra-base hits on the first pitch.
Hoskins should take a page out of their book. Oftentimes the best pitch a hitter sees in an at-bat is the first one. Last season, Hoskins was attacked by a pitch in the strike zone on the first pitch 293 times.
He put 36 of those pitches in play and 26 were outs.
Hoskins knows he needs to be better on the first pitch, and if he is, he will get fewer strikes to begin his plate appearances, which will result in more advantageous counts and, theoretically, more success.
For a look at Hoskins' 2020 projections, check out the video above.