by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
One of the players who fell short of our Top 15 First Baseman rankings earlier this week (click here to view) was the Royals’ Eric Hosmer. Coming off a strong season it makes sense to expect him among the top tiers. So why was he omitted? Before we answer, first let’s look at the numbers from 2016:
605 At Bats
.266 Batting Average (161 Hits)
25 Home Runs
5 Stolen Bases
.328 On Base Percentage
.433 Slugging Percentage
.301 Batting Average on Balls in Play
The home run total was a career high (his previous best was 19 HR), and while the average was down it wasn’t a crippling mark. The numbers justify potential Top 15 production, so why are we down on him? It starts with the power…
Hosmer is now 27-years old, so there is reason to believe in a power surge. However the underlying metrics are concerning. Look at the fly ball rates over the past four seasons:
- 2013 – 24.9%
- 2014 – 31.9%
- 2015 – 24.4%
- 2016 – 24.7%
The owner of a career 13.4% HR/FB, he posted a 21.4% mark last season. That alone would make us skeptical.
Last season there were 65 players who hit at least 25 HR, Hosmer was the only one to do so with a fly ball rate below 25%. In fact there were only 3 other players who accomplished the feat with a fly ball rate below 30% (Corey Seager, Joey Votto and Ryan Braun were the others). Considering that he has consistently posted this low of a fly ball rate, expecting him to replicate the power is difficult.
A drop in power will likely lead to a drop in his RBI production and he’s gone three straight seasons without reaching double-digit stolen bases. That leads to his average, which is generally viewed as his strength despite being a .277 career hitter and only once having posted a mark above .300 (.302 in ’13).
Last season his less than stellar average came courtesy of a 16.5% line drive rate (the second time in the past three seasons he was below 17%) and a career worst 19.8% strikeout rate. His SwStr% jumped to 11.9% (9.2% for his career), explaining the regression. The issues were against all types of pitches, as he saw his Whiff% rise across the board:
- Hard – 8.91%
- Breaking – 16.74%
- Offspeed – 20.40%
Generally we’d equate that type of increase with swinging for the fences, and while the power did increase that obviously wasn’t the case. To an extent that makes the issue even more concerning.
So we have a player whose power will likely regress, has concerning underlying metrics towards his average and doesn’t offer much speed. At a deep position, does that sound like a player who belongs in the Top 15?
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball
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|Starting Pitcher||#1-20 |02/27/17|