“Who was the last Phillies first baseman to hit 20 home runs in their rookie season? ”

You said Ryan Howard didn’t you? If not, good job. Most people would go with the former Phillies first baseman when answering this question. Others would say that Tommy Joseph is the answer to this question, and they would be correct.

Rather quietly, the biggest piece of the Hunter Pence trade back on July 31, 2012 put together a nice little season for the Phils during his first taste of big league action. A catcher by trade, Tommy Joseph has transitioned nicely over to first base during his time in the Phillies organization. The heir apparent to the Big Piece jacked 21 home runs out of the park for the Phillies during his rookie campaign, which began when he made his major league debut on May 13, 2016 against the Cincinatti Reds. Only 4 days later in a game against the Miami Marlins, Joseph hit his first career major league home run off of Marlins lefty Wei-Yin Chen. Joseph continued to show his power potential during his first big league campaign and finished the year with 21 bombs to go along with 47 RBI and 15 doubles.

Now obviously the Phillies would like to see more out of Joseph when it comes to the other offensive statistics. His 47 RBI next to his 21 home runs means he didn’t do much else of anything when he didn’t hit the ball out of the ballpark. His 22 walks is a low number for a guy with the power that he has, and his 75 strikeouts in 315 at-bats is something to improve upon as well. I guess there’s something about high home run rates and strikeout rates happening simultaneously for Phillies first basemen that is required to play the position for us. Anyway, you get what you give with Joseph. He probably won’t be the guy who hits for a  .300 batting average year in and year out, but a 30-100 type of guy isn’t much of a long shot. In an abbreviated season with the Phils in 2016, Joseph hit 21 home runs, showing he has the potential to hit the ball into the seats consistently. Sliding him into the middle of the order right from the start of the 2017 season will present him with many more opportunities to drive in some more runs. Likely hitting behind the likes of Cesar Hernandez, Howie Kendrick, Odubel Herrera and Maikel Franco, TJ will have a chance to up that RBI total from this past season by a large margin.

People tend to forget how hot of a prospect Tommy Joseph was when he was sent over here from the Giants in 2012. Remember the two other pieces in that Hunter Pence trade without looking it up? Probably not. The other two players in the deal were Nate Schierholtz and Seth Rosin. Schierholtz is currently out of baseball and likely done with his playing career, and Rosin is currently unemployed as well after being granted free agency by the San Diego Padres in November. Joseph was the biggest part of that deal all along after being a prized prospect in the Giants’ organization. In 2011, as a prime catching prospect, he hit .270 with 22 home runs and 95 RBI in 514 at-bats for the Giants’ High A ball affiliate. This is the type of season that we could easily expect from TJ for the Philles come 2017, if not better. With his 21 home runs in 315 major league at-bats in 2016, compared to the 514 at-bats in 2011 in which he hit 22 bombs in way more at-bats against lesser pitching, it is obvious that Joseph’s power tools are still growing. The 25-year-old will hopefully continue this trend and become the next great power hitting first baseman that the Phillies want and need him to be.

Why is it that no one talks about him, though? Has anyone else noticed this other than me? All the talk when it comes to the young talent the Phillies possess revolves around the Francos, Herreras, and Crawfords of the world. Maybe it’s because Joseph will head into the season at 25 years old, making him one of the older players heading into their second season in the big leagues. Does this sound like another first baseman from the Phillies’ past? That’s right. Ryan Howard again. The similarities between the two continue to be staggering, as Howard was blocked by Jim Thome as a young stud back in the day, and he didn’t make his much anticipated MLB debut until Sepember 1, 2004 at the age of 24, the same age Tommy Joseph made his debut at this past season. That Howard guy turned out to be okay I believe. As for Tommy Joseph, he’s got a long way to go before he can be mentioned in the same breath as Ryan Howard, but seemingly under the radar, he is well on his way to making a name for himself here in the City of Brotherly Love. Let’s hope that he is the next in line behind the likes of Howard and Thome in the line of awesome power-hitting first baseman to don a Phillies uniform. Let’s talk about this guy more, huh? Or, maybe we shouldn’t. Maybe he can stay under the radar long enough for teams to not think much of him while he proceeds to smash 30 home runs and knock in 100 RBI in 2017.

 

With that, Happy Holidays to everyone from us at Phillies Nation and Philadelphia Sports Nation. Our New Years resolution is simple: Keep supporting us in reading and sharing our stuff. We couldn’t do it without you guys!

 

Photo: Brule Laker (Via: Flickr)

Dylan Pearlman

Phillies Nation Section Manager; Phillies Nation Article Writer/Contributor; Phillies Nation Twitter Admin (@phlphilnation); Temple University Grad- Klein College of Media & Communications

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