Hoskins Leads Off, Hernandez Plays Shortstop for Phillies
New Phillies manager Gabe Kapler continues to make Phillies fans wonder about the makings up the 2018 Phillies lineup. In the first game that saw a good amount of regular players playing, Kapler batted first baseman Carlos Santana first, with slugger Rhys Hoskins behind him batting second. Second baseman Cesar Hernandez batted fifth in that arrangement. As the Phillies take the field tonight in Tampa for a 6:35 p.m. match up against the New York Yankees, all three will have a different position.
Hoskins will lead off for the Phillies. Hoskins has not done so thus far in a Phillies uniform. With the traditional model of the lead off hitter being someone who can get on base and then use his speed, this is only half of the equation. Hoskins, who has shown in his short career the ability to be patient and work walks, will get on base. Hoskins is not much of a base stealer, though.
Santana batting second is consistent with some of the lineup trends in baseball to put the most polished hitter second in the order. Last season Giancarlo Stanton batted second behind Dee Gordon in the Marlins lineup. Of course, Gordon fits the traditional lead off hitter profile. But Stanton batting behind him was enough for Stanton to earn the National League Most Valuable Player award.
While the second hitter would help move runners and often be a "productive out" in the minds of many, this skips that step completely. Stanton drove in 132 runs in this model. Santana, known for a high on base percentage himself, had 63 extra base hits for the Cleveland Indians in 2017. That would be more than enough to score Hoskins from first.
A single off of the bat of Santana could score Hoskins who reached base with a double or triple. Hoskins had seven doubles in 2017 and has the potential for more in 2018.
Batting behind Hoskins will be Hernandez, the incumbent lead off hitter. Hernandez reached base at a .373 clip batting first for the Phillies in 2017. Hernandez has speed but did not use it very often, stealing just 15 bases while being caught six times.
Hernandez will start tonight's game at shortstop. Hernandez has played shortstop in the past, 21 games total over the course of his five seasons in the major leagues. Pedro Florimon, competing for a bench role, is primarily a shortstop but will play second base tonight. The Phillies appear to be eager to look at the versatility of all of their players, including the starting lineup.
First pitch in Tampa at Steinbrenner Field is scheduled for 6:35 p.m.