It’s no secret that the majors’ two Pennsylvania-based teams possess a couple of the most powerful first basemen in the game. In the Phillies’ corner, there’s Rhys Hoskins. Meanwhile, the Pirates are fortunate enough to have Josh Bell manning the position. Both players are 27 years old and under club control for the next few seasons. But which of the two would you prefer on your team?
Let’s start with Hoskins, a 2014 fifth-round pick who burst on the scene as a rookie in 2017, when he only played in 50 games but still managed to wallop 18 home runs. Although Hoskins has come back to earth since then, he has still been more productive than your typical hitter. The right-handed slugger mashed 29 homers last year, and though his batting average was alarmingly low, his overall slash line (.226/.364/.454) placed him 10 percent above the average hitter by measure of OPS+ and 13 percent above by wRC+. Furthermore, Hoskins has been rather durable – he played in 153 games two years ago and 160 in 2019. He’s also under control for four more years, including one final pre-arb campaign (that’s if a season even happens in 2020).
Bell still has three years left before becoming a free agent – he’ll make a reasonable $4.8MM this season – and has been a similarly productive batter to Hoskins throughout his career. But the switch-hitting Bell, a 2011 second-rounder, truly came into his own last year – he slashed .277/.367/.569 (143 OPS+, 135 wRC+) and racked up 37 HRs over 613 trips to the plate. Also, it was the third straight year of at least 140-some games played for Bell, so he joins Hoskins as someone you can regularly count on to pencil into your lineup.
While Bell was undoubtedly the superior offensive producer a season ago, Hoskins has doubled his lifetime fWAR output over almost 400 fewer plate appearances (Hoskins is at 7.1 in 1,577 PA; Bell has put up 3.8 in 1,968 attempts). Notably, Hoskins has performed far better at first base, having accounted for minus-1 Defensive Runs Saved and a 3.9 Ultimate Zone rating to Bell’s minus-31 DRS and minus-17 UZR. However, despite Bell’s defensive issues, many teams would gladly plug his big bat into their lineup. The same goes for Hoskins. For the sake of this exercise, though, you can only choose one (and remember to consider team control for the two Scott Boras clients). Who’s your pick?
(Poll link for app users)