Buy Low Candidate: Has Eric Hosmer Become An Under-The-Radar Target?

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The Padres’ Eric Hosmer has been a bit of a polarizing player, as the veteran has shown some potential and given fantasy owners hope that he could take the next step and emerge as a top option. However he’s never reached those types of elite levels, instead being more of a back-end option and never really being someone who is trustworthy.

The shortened 2020 season was somewhat different, as you can easily say that he out-produced the expectations:

.287 (41-143), 9 HR, 36 RBI, 23 R

Now fantasy owners are left to wonder whether or not he can maintain those types of marks over a full season. It was a small sample size, but the key change was in his flyball rate:

  • 2017 – 22.2%
  • 2018 – 19.7%
  • 2019 – 23.1%
  • 2020 – 34.2%

His HR/FB of 22.5% was right inline with what he’s done in recent years, so the increased flyballs certainly helped lead to his improvement. He continued to hit the ball hard, with a 41.0% Hard%, while his Exit Velocity (90.8 mph) remained steady and his Launch Angle (8.7 degrees) actually improved (3.2 for his career). In other words, if the increased flyball rate can be maintained the power pace could continue.

That improvement in his power will be key, because despite significantly reducing his swings and misses (8.6% SwStr%) you have to wonder if he can maintain the improvement against breaking balls. In 2019 he posted a 20.55% Whiff%, but he cut that nearly in half with a 10.69% mark in ’20. The reality of that mark is key, because he was chasing outside the strike zone far too much (37.2% O-Swing%).

It’s easy to envision his 17.9% strikeout rate rising back into the 22-24% range, but he could offset that with the improved power and a little more luck (.296 BABIP). In other words, is it really a stretch to envision a .270ish hitter?

Hitting in a dramatically improved lineup, a line of .270/25/90 could be real. What if there was even more power than that? Considering the likely low-end cost, suddenly he appears to be a player to buy heading into 2021.

Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Savant, Brooks Baseball

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