Arguing With Myself: Eric Hosmer

Last week I had a little fun and decided to have a debate with myself about Brett Lawrie. Since it was a genuinely enjoyable article to write, I am going to do it again. This time I will be debating the merits of Eric Hosmer, with my friends Bull and Bear starring in the show.

Bull: 3rd place in the ROY voting, 19 home runs in 523 ABs while hitting .293. Sounds darn good to me!

Bear: 19 home runs from your 1st baseman is replacement level. And finishing third in the ROY is not something worth bragging about!

Bull: Of course, it wasn’t even a full season, pro-rate that home run rate to 600 ABs and you’re up to about 22. Besides, 11 steals. From a 1st baseman.

Bear: Hosmer is 6’4 and 229 pounds and was only successful 69% of the time he attempted a steal. I would consider any double digit steal total a complete bonus and it would be unwise to project any more than the high single digits.

Bull: Well, he has stolen a handful of bases in the minors at various stops, so this is not out of nowhere.

Bear: Yeah, at High-A! Over his career, he stole 20 bases in 1,241 plate appearances and for obvious reasons, it is easier to succeed in the minors than the Majors.

Bull: Okay, enough about his speed. Fantasy owners are drafting him for his power potential. And what potential that is! During his breakout Double-A campaign in 2010, he ISO’d .303 at the tender age of 21!

Bear: What a coincidence, the Royals’ Double-A squad played in a park that inflated lefty homers by a whopping 27%! He never even reached a .200 ISO at any other stop of his professional career. And again, this is from a 1st baseman.

Bull: Fine, but he makes great contact, which will ensure a pretty good batting average, and displayed good patience during most of his minor league stops.

Bear: His good contact rate translated well to the Majors, which is definitely a positive, but his plate patience disappeared. His walk rate was just 6.0%, which is the lowest mark he has posted. His BB% has really jumped around, so unfortunately it is difficult to get a read and what to expect going forward. But if he doesn’t improve it, his runs scored total will suffer.

Bull: We see this all the time, the rookie being less patient once he hits the Majors, but then seeing his walk rate return to his past levels the following year as he becomes more comfortable.

Bear: We’ll see. Oh, and back to his power…dude hits way too many ground balls. Poor worms. A nearly 50% ground ball rate is the same level at which powerless speedsters like Michael Bourn and Ryan Theriot sit. Good luck coming anywhere close to 30 homers.

Bull: He doesn’t even need to hit 30 homers to produce good roto value. The handful of steals alone make up for the near replacement level power and the fact that he will actually contribute in batting average means he is a potential five category guy.

Bear: Or, he ends up stealing only 5 bases, his walk rate doesn’t improve and he hurts fantasy teams in runs scored, the Royals offensive breakouts of 2011 regress and fewer ducks are on the pond for him to drive in and he has a bit of bad luck on balls in play. Suddenly, he is above replacement level in only one category, steals, and barely even contributes value there.

So how do I actually feel about Hosmer?

I think the Double-A breakout gave many some inflated expectations about Hosmer. If his power breakout was sustained in Triple-A this year and then only dropped off a bit on the Royals, I would be much more optimistic. He does hit too many grounders to get real excited, but Bull is right in that he does not need to swat 30 to generate some solid value. The Royals should continue to run, so although Hosmer might not steal 11 bases again, I think he will come close. He will also contribute in batting average, and hitting in the middle of the order should mean he should at least be decent in runs and RBI. I don’t think his upside is that high this year, but I think he is pretty safe given his potential across the board contributions.

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Mike Podhorzer produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. He also sells beautiful photos through his online gallery, Pod's Pics. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

10 Responses to “Arguing With Myself: Eric Hosmer”

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  1. Mark says:

    Good assesment, I definitely agree, he’s somewhat unusually safe for a youngster, though his upside may get overestimated in some circiles.

    Interestingly, in the early MDC averages, Hosmer is going right at the 5-6 turn (61st) while Lawrie is going at the 8-9 turn (96th). This seems to be one of those odd things about early MDC results that may be based on something wacky in their initial ranking system or the fact that despite a decent sample of valid drafts (54 since Nov 21) they’re probably largely being done by the same small set of individuals who are way too into mock drafting for their own good. You could basically flip those draft positions and I think that would be about right for both players, that is Lawrie at the 5-6 turn and Hosmer at the 8-9 turn would be about where I’d start to feel comfortable drafting them, respectively, not vice versa (though if Lawrie does end up at teh 8-9 turn, all I can say is YES PLEASE).

    Also worth mentioning that the spread on Hosmer is pretty small (he’s gone between 54 and 66 in all 54 drafts, within 12 picks) and on Lawrie its pretty huge (61 and 113, about a 4.5 rounds) which probably means there’s more room for Lawrie’s ADP to creep up than Hosmer’s to drop down once we start seeing more expert mocks and some real drafts.

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    • Mike Podhorzer says:

      Wow, that’s pretty shocking. I actually think Lawrie at 61 could still yield some profit, but Hosmer going there is nuts.

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  2. Max says:

    Assuming the Bill James projections are remotely accurate, I’ll take his projected slash-line in my 5 standard+OPS league any day of the week. High average, high OBP, good mix of steals and HRs, as well as the possibility for serious runs and RBIs if the Royals’ lineup starts pulling together.

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  3. OaktownSteve says:

    Early ADP of course not really indicative of much, but Trumbo going 70 picks after Hosmer? Also, Hosmer’s R/L splits are a little worrisome.

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  4. hennethannun says:

    No discussion of Hosmer’s age?

    The performance in the majors at age 21 seems to suggest that room for power growth is real (since we know power can develop after other skills).

    Also, the walk rate has fluctuated quite a bit, but there does seem to be a potential pattern: very good walk rate to start the year at a lower level, followed by a significant drop when promoted to a new level mid-season, followed by substantial consolidation at that ‘new’ level to begin the next season. Assuming that pattern were to hold, we would expect the walk rate to climb back up to the 10-11% this year, without much regression in his other offensive skills.

    Obviously those points are pretty bullish, but I do think the lack of power outside of NW Arkansas (AA) and the high GB rate do make it hard to predict 30+ home runs right around the corner.

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    • Josh says:

      This is exactly it. The guy put up pretty phenominal numbers as a 21 YEAR OLD in the MAJORS!

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      • Mike Podhorzer says:

        First off, a .342 wOBA from a first baseman is far from phenomenal. 2nd, Bull mentioned Hosmer’s age of 21 during his Double-A season when he ISO’d .303. This debate also isn’t really interested in Hosmer’s career and long-term future, just how he may perform in 2012.

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  5. Luke says:

    I’m confused – were you arguing for Billy Butler or Eric Hosmer?

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  6. Matt says:

    It seems like more analysis went into the Lawrie write-up whereas these seems like unsubstatiated banter between two buddies drinking a beer. Can we get a mulligan?

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  7. bSpittle says:

    Long term, I’m expecting big things from Hosmer.

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