Yet Another Eric Hosmer Red Flag

I don’t need to sell this all that hard. You come to FanGraphs. You’ve seen the articles about Eric Hosmer, his wildly fluctuating value, and how that stacks up next to his big free agency ask. The horse is dead already — rest in peace, horse. And yet, here it is. Another caution label to throw on Eric Hosmer, who is beginning to look more caution label than man now.

Statcast has been wonderful in both expanding the breadth and the depth of baseball analysis among both professionals (unlike myself) and hobbyists (hey, like myself!). Where PITCHf/x allowed us deep inside the world of pitching, many aspects of hitting were largely a black box until recently. With the aid of launch angles, exit velocity, and xBA we can judge not only the hitter’s results, but the process by which he arrived at them — is the hitter making quality contact? For Hosmer, his 25 home runs in 2017 might lead you to believe that he is. Statcast, as we’ll see, respectfully disagrees.

When it comes to types of contact, barrels are the crème de la crème. MLB’s glossary has the in-depth details, but in short — hit ball good, ball do good things. Statcast captures every batted ball event and allows us to take a closer look at who’s clobbering the ball on a regular basis. The leaders in barrel rate (Barrels per batted ball event, min. 200 batted balls) — Aaron Judge (25.74%), Joey Gallo (22.13%), and J.D. Kong (19.48%). Nothing out of place here. The laggards will surprise you just as much as the leaders did (in that they will not surprise you at all) — Dee Gordon (0.18%), Darwin Barney (0.36%), and Ben Revere (0.37%).  Hosmer’s 6.99% barrel rate ranks 121st out of 282 players, just above the average of 6.83%.

This not-terrible barrel rate is being masked by a well-above-average home run rate. Hosmer’s 22.5% HR/FB% ranks 30th in that same sample of 282 players. How do barrel rate and HR/FB% correlate?

Very well, actually. It seems my “hit ball good” theory has legs. Highlighted in red is Hosmer, and from a glance, it’s clear he’s pretty outlier-y. Using the equation from the best fit line and plugging in Hosmer’s barrel rate yields a pedestrian 14.34% xHR/FB%. The difference between his HR/FB% and xHR/FB% ranks 3rd out of 282. Yikes.

You might be wondering if HR/FB%-xHR/FB% even means anything. What good is knowing the difference if we don’t know the standard deviation or the distribution of the sample? Let the following bell curve assuage your concerns. Highlighted in red, again, is Hosmer.

I don’t have a very good conclusion for this. I’ve seen people mention his worm-killing tendencies. I’ve seen concerns about his defense. I’ve seen mentions of his BABIP-inflated career year. What I hadn’t seen yet was just how out of line his power numbers looked to be with his contact quality, and for a player seeking as much money as he is, that’s one more thing to be concerned about.



Print This Post

David Palardy is a father, husband, software developer, amateur sabermetrician, and lifelong Phillies fan. More of his writing can be found at palardelphia.wordpress.com, which is mostly but not exclusively Phillies related.

newest oldest most voted
BBech
Member
BBech

Who is JD Kong?

Defenestrater
Member
Defenestrater

JD Martinez. That nickname was given to him by Scott Boras.

Mike Podhorzer
Member
Member

The guys in your table are all hurt by use of the BBE denominator in Brls/BBE, because they hit so many ground balls. So they have fewer opportunities for a barrel. My new xHR/FB rate uses Brls/True FB rate instead, which is much kinder to Hosmer, making his HR/FB rates over the last 3 years right in line with his xHR/FB rates, though 2017, he was a bit better than expected.