by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
When we originally ran our first base rankings (click here to view) one of the biggest questions was why we believed in Rhys Hoskins (ranked #6) more than Cody Bellinger (ranked #8). Most of the fantasy world believes in Bellinger more than we do, but at the time we noted:
Many are going to have Cody Bellinger slotted in the Top 5 of their rankings, and after hitting .267 with 39 HR last season it makes sense. We’ll dive into why he fell short of those rankings in the next few weeks, but he’s one of the prime overpays we are expecting heading into ’18. Part of it is a potential power regression (19.4% HR/FB in the second half may be more realistic, which would make him more of a 30-35 HR threat as opposed to 40+) and his average may be capped due to the risk of strikeouts as well as a propensity for fly balls. Could you argue him up a few spots? Absolutely, but keep the risks in mind.
So with that being said why is it that we believe in Hoskins and his ability to maintain the splash he made in ’17 (.259 with 18 HR and 48 RBI over 212 PA)? Let’s take a look:
One of the biggest advantages Hoskins has over Bellinger is not his power (and the two are fairly close in that regard) but his approach/ability to make consistent contact. While Bellinger posted a better average during their time in the Majors in ’17, long-term Hoskins has more upside. Just look at his SwStr% from Triple-A and the Majors last season:
- Triple-A – 6.4%
- Majors – 7.1%
Couple that mark with a 24.0% O-Swing% and 23.8% line drive rate and it’s easy to conclude that his average was more a factor of bad luck (.241 BABIP) as opposed to talent. You can argue that he could see a drop in his line drive rate and won’t be able to maintain a strong BABIP (45.2% fly ball rate), but he’s better than what he showed last season. When you couple the ability to avoid strikeouts with his power he easily could hit .270+ (and .285 or better is a fair expectation).
The fact that Hoskins pairs the discipline with power is a unique skillset in this day and age. You want to say he can’t maintain a 31.6% HR/FB (his mark in the Majors)? That’s fair, but keep these numbers in mind:
- Double-A (2016) – HR every 13.1 AB
- Triple-A (2017) – HR every 13.8 AB
In the Majors last season he was at a home run every 9.4 AB. Even if you want to say the number doubles, so a HR every 18 AB, with 550 AB that would mean 31 HR. We reduce that to once every 15 AB he’s right around 37 HR and it’s possible he gets more than 550 AB on the season.
We know the red flags hanging over Bellinger for this season (though we’ll touch on them in more detail in the future), and while there’s risk involved in Hoskins as well we’d be more “all in” on him heading into 2018. The fact is that the power will likely be similar to Bellinger’s, but with significantly better plate discipline he should provide a better average (and that should also lead to more RBI/R as well).
Source – Fangraphs
Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Preseason Rankings: