What To Do About Eric Hosmer
Yes, this post has real content — not just me talking about future real content. Win! Anyway…
In April and May, most prognosticators said it was just a slump and he was getting really unlucky. In June he started to turn it around, hitting .270 with 3 HR and 5 SB – and owners thought they would start to get rewarded for their patience. But in July, something changed. On the surface, it seems like Eric Hosmer regressed into April/May territory, but his strike out rate spiked to career high rates. Since he was promoted to the majors last May, here are his K% by month:
He’s certainly making adjustments to try and perform at the level he’s capable of, but those adjustments are not working. The Pitch F/X hitter profiles at Baseball Prospectus really allow you to see some great next level detail about the differences between 2011 and 2012 from a pitch location perspective. For example, in 2012, Hosmer has a 58% ground ball rate on pitches in the upper part of the strike zone. That rate is double was it was in 2011 – 29%. Also, he’s hit .414 on 41 balls put in play which were off the inside and off the plate in 2011. This year, it’s .238 on 21 balls put in play. These may not be the most meaningful sample sizes, but they start to paint a little more of a picture.
This information is all fine and good, but what does it mean for Hosmer’s future value? If you’ve had Hosmer on your roster in a keeper/dynasty format and you’re in contention, there’s a decent chance you’ve probably dealt him for a nice package of 2012 help. And if you’re a non-contending team, you’ve probably been trying to get Hosmer from the team that has him for a while (hopefully successfully).
I still believe that Hosmer will be a top-10 1B next year, so if you’re going to deal him, make sure you get enough value in return. This season certainly continues to be a step in the wrong direction, but when you’re talking about the top hitting prospects in the game (of which Hosmer was one last season), I operate under the assumption that they will be able to make the necessary adjustments to succeed on the highest level. Just look at what Jason Heyward is doing this year after having a flop of a sophomore season. When dealing with elite talent, trust the talent over the stats because more often than not, the stats will come.
Personally, I have him in both a keeper league and a dynasty league where I’m in contention. In the dynasty league, I’m not dealing him for anything less than a Godfather offer – and I’d recommend that all his dynasty league owners do the same. He’s only 22 years old and has an extremely bright career ahead of him. However, if you’re in contention and someone offers you Albert Pujols, Jordan Zimmermann and Rafael Soriano for him — that might be the time to think about pulling the trigger.
In a keeper format, it’s trickier – especially one with price appreciation. I have him at $3 in a 16-tm mixed $260 budget league, and he remains $3 for 2013 before bumping up $5 each year after that – which means in his age-27 season (2017), he’ll still cost only $23. And in a league where Albert Pujols went for $65 at this year’s draft, that’s a significant value if he is who I think he is. Right now I’m in first place and need offense. Unfortunately, I’m also nearing our $330 in season salary cap. This means, that while I could pick up a stud for him in a vacuum, I’d need to clear active value in order to get under the cap. And dealing him for a $22 Freddie Freeman isn’t enough to get me to give up that future value. With no cap, I would probably have dealt him a few weeks ago – but instead I’m reinforcing around him. Which way you should go depends on the particulars of your league; however, don’t be afraid to deal him in order to put your team over the top. Just make sure you’re actually putting yourself over the top.
I plan on doing a number of posts similar to this, so if you have any suggestions of guys you’d like me to cover over the course of the rest of the season, either let me know on Twitter at @dynastyguru or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.