How Important is Darick Hall to the Philadelphia Phillies Success?

Mar 29, 2023 - 7:00 PM
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Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not fair to expect Darick Hall to be someone he isn’t.

Prior to the 2022 season, Hall was a 25-year-old career minor league first baseman coming off a season in which he had an OPS of just .741, not exactly conducive to Major league success, or even a call-up.

Then Hall broke out in the first-half of the season at Triple-A, received a promotion to the Philadelphia Phillies after Bryce Harper broke his thumb, and the rest is history.

Across 142 plate appearances at the Big League level, Hall hit nine home runs, struck out 44 times and walked only five times for a 121 OPS+. His inability to draw a walk makes it seem like that OPS figure is unsustainable, but oddly enough, Hall may have underperformed.

His 17.4% barrel-rate would have placed him seventh among qualified hitters, fitting neatly above Shohei Ohtani. For a player who hit the ball 3.0 mph harder than the MLB average, Hall’s .301 BABIP seems like it could be even higher, and extrapolated across a full season of 600 plate appearances, he would have hit 38 home runs had his pace continued.

During spring training 2023, it seems like Hall may have even remedied his strikeout/walk issues too. Across 63 plate appearances, Hall cut his strikeout-rate from 31.0% to 15.8% and raised his walk-rate from 3.5% to 14.3%, all the while continuing to mash home runs at a slightly elevated pace.

Of course, this came against weak spring competition, but what’s not to love about Darick Hall, could there possibly be any downside?

Just as good as Nick Maton was at handling the fastball in 2022, Hall was as bad at dealing with the heater.

Across 55 balls in play, Hall hit a measly .208 with a strikeout-rate of 38.2%. With a much larger database on the Phillies’ new first baseman now that he’s not a rookie, Hall will get a steady diet of high fastballs.

He swung and missed at a grand total of just 21 pitches in the lower two-thirds of the strike zone in 2022, but in the upper third alone he swung and missed 23 pitches.

Across his entire Major League season, Hall only had two hits that came off pitches in the upper-third of the strike zone. He has been almost entirely unable to get around on high pitches at Big League velocities.

Without the benefit of Statcast we’re unable to fully analyze if he has remedied his issues on high fastballs. Of the 14/18 spring training hits Statcast does have data for, only one was in the upper-third of the zone, and it was a grounder that snuck through the left side of the shift, unlikely a repeatable skill.

Though it’s impossible to say whether or not Hall has remedied all of his flaws given our limited sample size, he still has the capability to be a very good, yet imperfect, player. Hall’s prerogative must be to capitalize off pitchers’ mistakes.

Not every Big League pitcher will be able to throw all their pitches in the upper-third of the zone, and when they miss, Hall must make up for his “elevation” deficiencies.

Most importantly though, Hall is mentally prepared to tackle this new challenge. After mentoring several minor league teammates like Ethan Wilson and Mickey Moniak, the latter of whom Hall would talk baseball until 3:30 am when Moniak would pass out, Hall found his mentor in Rhys Hoskins.

Taking the job of a fan-favorite is a tough task, taking the job from a close friend and excelling is herculean feat. But as Hall said in an article by Alex Coffey of The Philadelphia Inquirer, “[Rhys Hoskins]... gave me his blessing to go do it.

“I’m not going to try to replace Rhys. I’m going to be Darick Hall.”

And that is exactly what the Phillies need. Until Bryce Harper returns, whenever that may be, if Hall can remain the same player he was in 2022, that’s all Philadelphia will ask.

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