Though it's not his natural position, Rhys Hoskins appears to have accepted the challenge of playing left field on a regular basis for the foreseeable future. The 18 home runs that he hit in his first 170 major league at-bats would traditionally mean that he would be the team's cleanup hitter moving forward. The 24-year-old says he would be fine with hitting fourth in the lineup - or any spot that first-year manager Gabe Kapler writes him in at.
It's possible that Hoskins hits at the No. 3 spot in the lineup in 2018. Heck, Mike Trout, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge all hit at the No. 2 in their respective team's lineups at times in 2017, and it's possible that with a progressive manager in Kapler, Hoskins finds himself at that spot at times in 2018. When asked about that possibility Wednesday, Hoskins seemed open to it.
"I think as long as I get to step into the right hander's batter's box three or four times a game, I don't really care where I hit - just to put it bluntly," Hoskins said. "I'm open to anything, really. There's a lot of information out there - when you say analytics, I think the layman's term is just information."
Baseball Musings has an interesting tool that allows you to build the best lineup possible. You simply punch in a player's OBA and slugging percentage and it builds you the 30 most effective lineup combinations. Based off of Steamer's 2018 projections, Baseball Musings says that the Phillies five best potential lineup combinations would have Hoskins hitting after the leadoff hitter, who they say should be Carlos Santana.
Hoskins went on to say that Kapler, who he says he is excited to play for, has made clear with the team that the club may not be managed in as traditional of a way as it has been in the past.
"The one thing that Gabe has kind of stressed to us has been that things are going to be fluid," Hoskins said of where he expects to hit in the lineup. "Just because you hit second or third or fourth one night doesn't mean it's going to be second or third or fourth the next night."
Of course, Hoskins will be one of the more fluid players on the team. Not only will he likely find himself at different spots throughout the lineup, but as mentioned in the lede, he's likely going to spend a majority of his time in left field, not his natural position of first base. But things will be fluid. He'll certainly play some games at first base, and with four starting-caliber outfielders and a Gold Glove-caliber first baseman in Santana, he may DH when the Phillies play in American League parks.
Hoskins has gotten quite familiar with Kapler this offseason, as the two have been paired together on quite a few panels. For example, Tuesday night, the two were part of a group that traveled to Reading, home of the team's Double-A affiliate, for the latest stop in the team's Winter tour. Wednesday evening, they were back at Citizens Bank Park, where the Phillies hosted their first ever College Winter Summit. Thus far, the 24-year-old seems to have taken a liking to his new manager, who is sure to appreciate his willingness to be flexible.