Tommy Joseph had a bit of an ‘I told you so’momenton Saturday.
After a five-run first inning, Joseph stepped in and launched a two-run home run just over the center field wall. It was his 20th dinger of the season.
What was so special about that moment?
“This time last year a lot of people had given up on my future,” Joseph said, referencing his injury history and his removal from the 40-man roster. “To be sitting here a year later with 20 homers in the show, it’s a pretty special feeling.”
He joined some elite company with that swing. He became just the sixth Phillies rookie to hit 20 home runs and the first to do so since Ryan Howard in 2005. Before Howard accomplished it, Scott Rolen was the most recent back in 1997.
“Over the last week when I hit 18 and 19, I was like, ‘Alright, we can do this, we have some time left to make this happen,'” said Joseph with his always jubilant smile. “I don’t know if I would have been able to live with myself if I stuck at 19.
“To get to the 20 mark is special, it means a lot to me. There’s not too many guys in Phillies history who have been able to do it so to be up there with guys like Scott Rolen and Howie, it’s pretty cool.”
Joseph has a few more weeks to catch up to those players he mentioned. Howard had 22 home runs as a rookie and Rolen hit 21. In a season where individual play has sometimes been in the spotlight more so than the team, Joseph has really made a name for himself.
Pete Mackanin called him a “pleasant surprise” following Saturday’s win, pointing out the fact that kind of came out of nowhere after falling off the radar with concussion issues.
“He’s done a lot of good things,” Mackanin said. “He’s made a good impression for the future.”
Despite this success, though, Joseph still has one problem area to work through. He wants to get his on-base percentage higher. The first baseman isn’t wasting any time, either.
“It’s just the goal to do it the rest of the season, too,” Joseph said. “There’s no reason to just put it on the goal list for next year when I still have a dozen games left. There’s still time left to make adjustments.”
With a .299 OBP, Joseph has his sights set much higher. He wants to get that number up between .350-.360. That’s where some of the best hitters in baseball find themselves, as do two his teammates, Odubel Herrera (.360) and Cesar Hernandez (.358).
If he can reach base at a higher clip, he could very well cement his spot on the Phillies roster at a position where there isn’t a whole lot of depth outside the big-swinging Rhys Hoskins.