You can find a dozen topics to discuss after watching last night’s Phillies extra innings win over the Braves, but there are two things that should stand out. The signing of Carlos Santana was a great move, and Rhys Hoskins is a future star in this league.
A sacrifice fly is not the sexiest way to win a ball game, but it was the way first baseman Carlos Santana gave the Phillies the lead in the top of the 11th inning in Atlanta last night. From there on, right-hander Drew Hutchison closed out the game and pitched an impressive 2 innings of relief where he only allowed 1 hit, 1 walk, and had 2 strikeouts.
The game winning RBI was not the only way Santana contributed to the win last night. After a rough Opening Day start where he went 0-5, the veteran made sure his first hit in a Phillies uniform was loud. Santana’s solo home run tied the game in the 5th inning and added to his RBI total which finished at 3 on the evening.
A lot of people questioned the signing of Santana over the off-season, but the way the Phillies organization and Gabe Kapler are trying to put together a roster to win, it made sense.
It was considered that Santana had a “down year” last season when he could only hit 23 home runs and plate 79 RBIs. His .259 batting average is not something of a superstar, but for Santana and the Phillies organization, his .363 on base percentage in 2017 does.
Santana was in the top 40 in the Major Leagues last season and for his career, his name is consistently on that list. Santana shows that he will always try to have a count go deep and that he will wait for the best pitch to hit. With his patience and IQ at the plate, we can expect more games like last night from Santana where he plates a pair of RBIs from a sacrifice flies.
The other man to discuss after last night’s 5-4 win over the Braves, is left fielder Rhys Hoskins. Hoskins was part of the reason why fans questioned the signing of Carlos Santana. Santana played the majority of the season at first base during his time in Cleveland, with starts in the outfield and DH. Why bring in a guy who can only play first base with the Phillies when you have the guy of the future already here? Well, it looks like the club wants him to be an outfielder for now.
In 2017, Hoskins took the league by storm with the impressive numbers he put up in just 50 games. Of those 50 games, Hoskins started in left field for 29 of them and only found himself starting at first base 21 times. To start the 2018 season, the young star has played in the outfield in both games with Santana sitting comfortably at first base.
There will be games this season when we see Hoskins playing first base, but the every day lineup seems to have him in the outfield. As much as we like to find things to argue about, the thing that should matter with Hoskins is not his position, but his bat.
After coming back down to earth toward the end of his 50 games last season, Hoskins has shown to start 2018 that pitchers have not totally figured him out. In just 8 at-bats, Hoskins is hitting .500 with an on base percentage of .556 (hit by a pitch), he has platted 2 RBIs and has scored twice himself. Of his 4 hits, 3 of them are for extra bases with two doubles and a home run.
People always like to say “don’t overreact” at the beginning of the MLB season. We heard people who ACTUALLY wanted the Phillies to fire Gabe Kapler after the first game (tremendous “hot take”). But it is hard not to react to the numbers that Rhys Hoskins is already putting up after he won us all over in 2017.
Carlos Santana and Rhys Hoskins are just 2 pieces to a 9-man lineup. It will take good starting pitching, the rest of the lineup, the bullpen, and good decisions by Gabe Kapler to complete the rest of the team. We already know that the story of the 2018 Phillies will not be one that ends in a World Series, and that is okay. What we should all expect and demand this year, is to see growth from the rest of the club outside of those two key pieces.
In the mean time, give yourself a chance to enjoy Santana when he works the count every single night. Enjoy Hoskins and the confidence he should bring you for the future of the Phillies when he performs every single night. We may overreact to the bad things that happen in Philadelphia, but in a time where a lot seems bright, we should all try and focus on the positive things before another good era comes to an end. This one is just beginning.
- Andrew Salciunas - Phillies Contributor for 975thefanatic.com
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