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Small victories, large defeats.

Updated: 2017-10-18T15:21:48-04:00


Rhys Hoskins and the best 50-game starts in Phillies history


Even after cooling off in late September, Rhys Hoskins’ start was pretty impressive. There is nothing magical about a player’s first 50 games, but it has two key attributes: it’s a nice round number, and it’s where Rhys Hoskins stood when the 2017 season came to an end. And in terms of analysis and predictiveness it doesn’t have much going for it — it’s both an arbitrary endpoint, AND a small sample. Not only that, but a player’s first 50 games can be especially fluky, given the adjustment that players often have to make to major league play (and that pitchers make to them) when they first come up. Dingers Having said all that, let’s see how Hoskins’ first 50 games stack up with the best 50-game starts in history. His home runs drew the most attention through August and September, including in graphs like the one below. This is descriptive enough in showing how Hoskins’ progress compared to the MLB record at each point through 50 games. But it’s also kind of sterile, and in the end, woefully inadequate in conveying the magnitude of the feat. The blue line represents the best of the best of the thousands of players who have lasted at least 50 games in the majors — 6,880 players in all (10,947 including pitchers). Yes, there has been more of a focus on lifting the ball in recent years, and yes, there is evidence the ball has been juiced for the last year or two. But even so, from games 15 through 44, not one of the great sluggers in MLB history, past or present, hit more home runs than Rhys Hoskins. Runs Batted In The next graph is just as impressive, despite Hoskins holding at least a share of the all-time record for “only” six games to date. RBIs are to a large extent a team stat, and one highly dependent on where a hitter bats in the lineup, but the pool of players racking up lots of RBIs throughout history is much bigger, since you don’t need to hit HRs to get a lot of RBIs (though obviously it helps). The table below shows where Hoskins stands on these two all-time lists after 50 games: - third in home runs with 18, one behind Bellinger and Sanchez- tied for fifth in RBIs with 48, behind three first ballot Hall of Famers, and the owner of one of the great rookie seasons ever by a not-so-great player: In terms of Phillies history, Hoskins blew away the HR record for this point in a career that Tommy Joseph set just last year. Three years before that, Darin Ruf was the latest to tie the long standing record of 11 homers in the first 50. The franchise record for most RBIs through 50 games had stood for 86 years. Pat Burrell got within one of tying it when he came up in 2000, but 32-year-old rookie Buzz Arlett’s start in 1931 (the only major league season he would ever see) withstood that challenge. Arlett was also tied for the Phils’ HR record until Joseph passed him. His story is worth a read by the way, either in his SABR bio, or the shorter version in Wikipedia. In summary: - He started as a pitcher and went 106-93 in the minors with a 1.14 ERA before converting to the outfield (he got his nickname from cutting through hitters like a buzz saw). - He was called the Babe Ruth of the minor leagues and was considered the all-time minor league home run king with 432. He held that record for 78 years, until just two years ago when Mike Hessman passed him with the final home run of his pro career (a grand slam off old friend Dustin McGowan and the Iron Pigs). - In 1984, the Society for American Baseball Research voted Arlett the most outstanding player in the history of minor-league baseball. Also on that RBI list: Leo Norris was the Phillies’ shortstop in 1936. That was one of the best seasons for hitting in MLB history, and Norris is one of a slew of players who debuted that year and hit a ton right away. Don Hurst was their first baseman from 1928 until he was traded in 1934. Many probably remember Ron Jones, an outfielder who could hit when he wasn’t tearing up his knees. Other Counting Stats The tables at the[...]

Season Recap: Clearwater Threshers


Sixto and Seranthony and JoJo...oh my! Season Review: Things were looking up, then they were quite down. Not being able to secure a playoff birth was a bit disappointing. Clearwater finished 2nd in the North Division standings to close out the 1st half of the season. In the Florida State League, the division winners of the first and second halves make the playoffs. All the Threshers had to do was either finish 1st or 2nd depending on if the division winner from the 1st half won again. They of course failed to do that either, going a forgettable 29-39 after a 38-32 first half. All this was mostly in part to the absolute dismal state of the offense, which struggled most of the regular season. Lineup mainstays Jose Pujols, Jan Hernandez, Grenny Cumana and Emmanuel Marrero all ranged from discouraging to downright abysmal. However, the Threshers perhaps saw their biggest intake of promising pitching prospects in years. With Jose Tavares, Franklyn Kilome, Cole Irvin, Seranthony Dominguez, JoJo Romero, Ranger Suarez and Sixto Sanchez all taking the mound at various points. The offensive outlook next season should look a bit brighter as they should get a full season of 2017 South Atlantic League HR champ Darick Hall, 1st round picks Mickey Moniak/Adam Haseley and dynamic middle infielders Daniel Brito/Arquimedes Gamboa. The pitching shouldn’t look to bad either with Nick Fanti, Adonis Medina and Bailey Falter all likely to make the jump. There is also a very good chance we see Sixto Sanchez, JoJo Romero and Ranger Suarez in Clearwater to start the year. It will get better Thresher fans. Best Hitter: Cornelius Randolph, LF13 HR, 55 RBI, 7 SB (.250/.338/.402) Perhaps a case could be made for 1st baseman Wilson Garcia, but Randolph’s season and status as a prospect elevated him a bit higher in my opinion. 2017 saw Randolph finally tap into his power with a .152 ISO (an increase from 0.83 the previous season). That of course came with a slight increase in both his walk and strikeout rates as well. Randolph closed out his season with a .344 wOBA and 118 wRC+, which if you take a lot of stock into advanced stats for prospects is really quite good as most folks pegged him as an already “bust” entering the season. Cornelius Randolph will likely get to showcase his talents in the friendly confines of Reading, Pennsylvania next season. He will need to continue to show improvements at the plate, specifically with recognizing off-speed and breaking pitches. Randolph’s road to the show will rest solely on his bat as he isn’t the most gifted outfielder (remember he was drafted as a SS). His 2017 should be an indicator that he’s still very much a prospect in the Phillies farm system and someone to keep an eye on. Best Pitcher: The entire starting rotation Is this cheating? Sure, but take a look at who started games for this club and how well they did for the Threshers. You have Jose Tavares, who had the most strikeouts among starts and who wound up starting games in Lehigh Valley to close the season. Franklyn Kilome who started to harness his command and was promoted to Reading. Seranthony Dominguez who could have topped most categories if he was able to stay healthy. Then you have JoJo Romero and Sixto Sanchez, who breezed through low-A ball and continued their dominance after their promotion to the Florida State League. Best Moment/Key Promotion: Sixto Sanchez making his High-A debut August 5th. Sixto Sanchez and that sweet mid-high 90’s fastball (that can touch triple-digits) is not only the Phillies top pitching prospect, but one of the best in all of baseball. So when Sanchez was promoted after only 13 starts in the South Atlantic League, the collective fanbase got quite excited. In 5 starts with the Threshers, Sanchez was able to pull together 20 strikeouts to 9 walks in 27.2 innings, holding batters to a .252 average. Please keep in mind, the kid is still 19 years old and will be until late-July next year. Biggest Disappointment: Jose Pujols, RF8 HR, 29 RBI, 150 K (.194/.247/[...]

Jimmy Rollins winked at me on TV and I will never be the same


Jimmy Rollins’ winks are made of gold and silver and fairy dreams. Last year, when Jimmy Rollins was in his first year doing the TBS baseball broadcast, I tweeted something about how his gray hair was making me feel my age. I didn’t @ him, I just used his name. Then me and my boyfriend drove to a local mediterranean place for dinner. Suddenly, my phone started blowing up. They had shown my tweet on the air during the postgame show! But I had missed it! I was heartbroken. Fast forward a year to Tuesday night. The Dodgers had just finished beating the Cubs, and I saw Jimmy Rollins on TV. He was looking sharp, so I decided to tweet about it. Jimmy Rollins is looking mighty fine in that lavender jacket and purple tie. Mmmhmm.— Liz Roscher (@lizroscher) October 18, 2017 Key Promotion Scott Kingery After tearing up Reading and showing some flashes of being a first-division regular, Kingery was a no-doubt to promote to Allentown by the end of June. The Reading numbers: .313/.379/.608, with 18 HR and 44 RBI in 69 games. He’s a plus runner, appears on his way to being an above-average fielder, and finally saw the power numbers play out a bit in 2017. He added muscle this past off-season and it showed. He posted a .786 OPS in Lehigh Valley and certainly didn’t embarrass himself, though there was an adjustment period to say the least. The big question: Is Kingery on his way to Philadelphia in 2018? The Phillies have a decision to make with Cesar Hernandez (and Freddy Galvis for that matter, who seems like he’d play literally anywhere on the field to remain with the Phillies). If Hernandez is traded this winter, Kingery’s your second baseman come April. But it might take a few months, too. Hey, the Phillies weren’t afraid to move prospects around the field this season as we saw. Kingery might be a starting pitcher by June if we really try hard enough. Biggest Disappointment Dylan Cozens: .210/.301/.418, 27 HR, 75 RBI Is this really so much of a disappointment? It could just be a bit of reality. Cozens put together a pretty outstanding 2016 season, and, yes, playing in Reading did seem to help him a little bit. There were plenty of questions heading into this season about Cozens and his ability to hit left-handed pitching. He didn’t quell any of those fears, hitting .194./291/.367 in 139 at-bats against southpaws. So really, as of the end of this season, yes, sadly, Cozens is looking more like Russell Branyan than he is Adam Dunn. But it’s not too much of a surprise. His relatively lucky .348 BABIP in 2016 dipped to .283 in 2017. With fewer balls landing in the seats, fewer balls dropping in for hits, and 194 strikeouts in 135 games, this was the season that fans of Cozens dreaded thinking about. But it did happen. Cozens will be 24 in May, and there’s no reason to do anything but let him come back in 2018 and do it all over again in Lehigh Valley. He’ll probably sneak onto the 25-man at some point in 2018, and maybe he’ll mash a few taters. But that rosy 2016 season now seems so long ago. [...]