2011 Fantasy Baseball Spotlight: Analyzing Eric Hosmer, AKA My New Man Crush

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2011 Fantasy Baseball Spotlight: Analyzing Eric Hosmer, AKA My New Man Crush
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
It's not a question of how good Eric Hosmer can be, it's a question of how great he will be.

Hosmer homers again. I think that's a phrase we'll be hearing quite a bit over the next decade or so.

Ahem. Attention please. Now vying he for the prestigious albeit disconcerting spot of top dawg on the Man Crush 2011 leaderboard, Mr. Eric Hosmer! Cue dull applause.

But seriously, Daniel Day-Lewis -- or should I say Daniel Plainview? -- the 6'4" 230 lb. absolutely en fuego 21-year old prodigy is about to drink your milkshake. I know, DDL, I know... you've brilliantly held the title of Main Man Crush since you won the Oscar for Best Actor in the incredibly family friendly flick There Will Be Blood nearly four years ago. Alas, you're "fiiinnnnnniissshhhed." Better hide that mute "bastard in a basket" of yours HW, because Hosmer will legit feast on the blood of lamb from Bandy's tract -- or at least on bad breaking balls over the middle -- quicker than you can say "DRINK IT UP!" Even if you have a milkshake AND he has a milkshake.

But I digress...

In the vein of mid-thirty fanboys fawning over Comic-Con fodder or teenyboppers with Bieber Fever, there has been an equal eff-ton of buzz this week surrounding the wunderkind Eric Hosmer and here's why: 

Six games played, five RBIs, four runs scored, three french hens, two home runs, one stolen base and a .333/.444/.714 slash line! See what I did there? Yeah? Sheeeeeeessh, is it Christmas yet or what!?!

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Who is better long-term, Gonzo or Hosmer?

Suddenly, a knock on the door. Pedigree, meet Opportunity, Opportunity, meet Pedigree. Enter Mr. Hosmer stage left.

EEERRRRRIIIICCCC! Guy! Buddy! So glad you arrived. A bit earlier than expected, of course, but whatevs, no big deal, we'll make some room somehow just give us oooonnnneeeee second. (Looks around) Where is that big lummox? Hey, Kila?!? Kila-Monster!!? Yeah, buddy, hey. Can you come in here for a second? I need to talk to you about something real quick. It won't take long. No longer than your career in the Majors anyway. OoooOooohhhh. Too soon? Okay, back to E then. 

Eric! E! Can I call you E? Like that squirrely guy in that show...what was it...the little leprechaun looking dude, you know...in...Entourage! Yeah! E! Great. Come on in. Welcome. Snacks are on the table, though I wouldn't recommend drinking the punch 'cause I'm pretty sure I saw Jose Bautista pour something in it and I'm faaaiiiirrrrllly certain that whatever it was has something to do with his current league leading 1.275 OPS, as well as -- and this is just a hunch -- give or take, about 53 of his 54 HRs from last season. But again, that's just a hunch, so do as you please and make yourself comfortable, my friend.

But on a serious note, now that you're here and all, let's take a look at what we can expect from you, new best friend Eric, in terms of production and fantasy impact from this point forward in various formats (re-draft, keeper, dynasty).

First-off, 1B is crazy deep, obviously, so Hosmer's impact on 1B ranking will probably be a little less Bad Boy Worldwide and a little more Prestige Worldwide, at least for this season. Step Brothers reference: check. Yup.

Still, he's certainly been the center of an enormous amount of chatter recently -- of which I've heard some fair, or unfair, depending on how you look at it -- comparisons to both Joey Votto and Adrian Gonzalez. In order to get a better understanding of our expectations for Hosmer, lets take a look at all three of their Minor-League stats.

Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Royals, First Baseman

2010 Minor-League statistics, 20 years old, (A+-AA): 137 G, 520 AB, .338 BA, .406 OBP, .571 SLG, .977 OPS, 20 HRs, 86 RBIs, 14 SBs, 87 Runs, 59:66 K:BB 

2011 Minor-League statistics, 21 years old, (AAA):  26 G, 98 AB, .439 BA, .525 OBP, .582 SLG, 1.107 OPS, 3 HRs, 15 RBIs, 21 Runs, 16:19 K:BB 

Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds, First Baseman

2007 Minor-League statistics, 22 years old, (AA): 136 G, 508 AB, .319 BA, .408 OBP, .547 SLG, .956 OPS, 22 HRs, 77 RBIs, 24 SBs, 85 Runs, 109:78 K:BB

2008 Minor-League statistics, 23 years old, (AAA):  133 G, 496 AB, .294 AB, .381 OBP, .478 SLG, .859 OPS, 22 HRs, 92 RBIs, 17 SBs, 74 Runs, 110:70 K:BB

Adrián González, Boston Red Sox (Current), San Diego Padres (Former), First Baseman

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Domo Arigato Mr. Joe Votto or Homerin' Hosmer?

2002 Minor-League statistics, 20 years old, (AA): 138 G, 508 AB, .266 BA, .344 OBP, .437 SLG, .781 OPS, 17 HRs, 96 RBIs, 6 SBs, 70 Runs, 112:54 K:BB

2004 Minor-League statistics, 22 years old, (AAA): 123 G, 457 AB, .304 BA, .364 OBP, .457 SLG, .821 OPS, 12 HRs, 88 RBIs, 1 SB, 61 Runs, 73:39 K:BB 

First things first. Yes, Hosmer played in A+ and AA, whereas Votto and Gonzo only played in AA. However, if you're prepared to use the Lower Level competition Hosmer faced as some semblance of an unjust comparison, to you good Sir or Madame, I say this: Check. The. Facts. Hosmer played twice as well in AA as he did in A+, causing no unfair inflation of his statistics whatsoever, unless you count him being that good as unfair, in which case, I see your point. Moving on.

So for reals, when looking at the stats what is the first thing you notice? Exactly. Well, maybe not exactly. At least in terms of Fantasy, oftentimes the value of health and health related stats like ABs, PAs and games played get overlooked (yes, Kevin Youkilis I'm looking at you, buddy). But all three of these guys have stayed incredibly healthy, logging more than enough ABs to give us a strong sample size to compare.

Rule No. 1: You can't accumulate stats if you ain't on the field. Ergo, healthy players are imperative to fantasy success, and Hosmer has health, makeup, and that rather creepy word scouts use -- "specimen" -- in spades.

Something else to keep in mind is the fact that Hosmer was younger than both Votto and González while playing at each level in the Minors, and was younger than both of them at the time of their promotions.

Lower Levels (A-AA):

At the lower levels Hosmer and Votto appear quite comparable. They share very similar stats in BA, OBP, SLG, OPS, HRs, RBIs, and Runs, with a clear edge to Votto in SBs and a quite staggering advantage to Hosmer and his ultra-elite K:BB rate. Though, if you put either of their numbers next to Gonzo, who struck out almost twice as many times as Hosmer did, hit for .72 points lower in BA and almost .200 points lower in OPS, it doesn't even look like you have the same caliber prospect. It's clear that both Hosmer and Votto were far more advanced than Gonzo at this point in their developmental stages.

  • BA:  Hosmer > Votto > Gonzo
  • OBP:  Votto > Hosmer > Gonzo
  • SLG:  Hosmer > Votto > Gonzo
  • HR:  Votto> Hosmer > Gonzo
  • RBI:  Gonzo > Hosmer > Votto
  • SB:  Votto > Hosmer > Gonzo
  • R:  Hosmer > Votto > Gonzo
  • K:BB rate: Hosmer > Votto > Gonzo
  • OVERALL PERFORMANCE:  Hosmer > Votto > Gonzo

 

Upper Level (AAA):

Though we only have a small sample size to look at for Hosmer in AAA, there are a few things that stand out. By this point Votto is 23 years old, Gonzo 22, and Hosmer 21, yet Hosmer still holds the distinct advantage in terms of plate discipline. Gonzo had improved his K:BB from over 2:1 to 1.8:1, whereas Votto, who still had good rates as he hovered around 1.6:1, did not show signs of improvement. Hosmer continued to rock a K:BB rate better than 1:1, illustrating not only a superior understanding of the strike zone, but sustained levels of elite production for an incredibly important and underrated statistic to Fantasy Baseball success. So you see, though Gonzo and Votto both showed a solid ability to get on base, Hosmer, once again, was far superior. Why do we care about K:BB rates and OBP so much? The more times you get on base, the more chances you have to score. So Hosmer does himself a huge favor in the counting stats department by being able to manufacture more runs himself.

One Gold Star for you, Hosmer.

Another thing that stands out with Hosmer at AAA is actually a cause for concern. Despite a robust 1.107 OPS, Hosmer only had an ISO of .143, down from .303 at AA and .191 at A+. Though this doesn't necessarily create cause for concern, it does raise some questions about his raw power and brute strength.

Hopefully with Hosmer, like most other budding prospects and especially in the cases of Gonzo and Votto, he will develop more power as he matures and gets older (Gonzo HRs: 24, 30, 36, 40, 31; Votto HRs: 24, 25, 37). But even in the unlikely event that he doesn't -- which to me sounds more insane than deeming Hosmer a better overall talent long-term than Votto and Gonzo -- he still has the potential for Fantasy stardom because of his extraordinary batting eye and natural abilities -- a top-tier producer through and through.

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I'll call this next segment: The Dessert Portion. In the Minors, Votto appeared to be a solid base stealer, but that really only translated over to the Majors last season when he stole 16 bases, as opposed to the 11 total over the two previous seasons combined. Like Votto, Hosmer has the speed and base running ability to steal anywhere from 6 to 15 bases a season. It may not sound like much, but coming from a 1B, that's icing on the cake. Set 'em up, then knock 'em down.

Because Hosmer did not play a full season at AAA we can only imagine/project/dream/make-up where his numbers may have been based on the ways he was trending...

  • BA:  Hosmer > Gonzo > Votto
  • OBP:  Hosmer > Votto > Gonzo
  • SLG:  Votto > Hosmer > Gonzo
  • HR:  Votto > Hosmer > Gonzo
  • RBI:  Gonzo > Hosmer > Votto
  • SB:  Votto > Hosmer > Gonzo
  • R:  Hosmer > Votto > Gonzo
  • K:BB rate:  Hosmer > Votto > Gonzo
  • OVERALL PERFORMANCE:  Hosmer > Votto > Gonzo

So, lets see what we can extrapolate from all this information.

I believe Hosmer is the more superior talent, with the largest upside and highest ceiling, in comparison to both Votto and Gonzalez. I believe he is the best pure hitter in the bunch with the greatest chance to contribute with elite production across the board -- here's the best part -- even if he doesn't develop the same 30+ HR power as Votto and Gonzalez. That being said, I don't believe that this will just happen overnight. In fact, Hosmer and Gonzo may never both be in their primes at the same time, which is unfortunate. Something Hosmer must do however, in order to follow in the ever-improving footsteps of Votto and Gonzo, is he must make adjustments at the Major League level. Once Votto and Gonzo arrived at the Big Show they were not only able to make the necessary adjustments in order to adapt to tougher competition, but continue to make the necessary adjustments in order to adapt to tougher, and tougher competition. After all, it is a pitchers league nowadays. But by doing this, by making those adjustments, they were able to improve upon their statistics each season, which is something Hosmer must do if he wants to truly ascend up the ranks and become elite.

Tools Ranking:

If we are looking to crown superiority solely in terms of tools, at this point, I'd say:

  • BA:  Hosmer
  • OBP:  Hosmer
  • SLG:  Votto
  • HR:  Gonzo
  • SB:  Votto
  • K:BB rate:  Hosmer

That being said, Hosmer is, admittedly, as close to a carbon copy of Votto as you can get in terms of statistical contribution to Fantasy, so in the short-term think of him as Joey Votto Jr.

ERIC HOSMER PROJECTIONS

Re-Draft Leagues (2011)

2011 Fantasy Low-end: .270 BA, .850 OPS, 14 HR, 55 R, 60 RBI, 5 SB

2011 Fantasy High-end: .300 BA, .900 OPS, 20-25 HR, 70 R, 75 RBI, 12 SB

Think similar production to Billy Butler, Justin Smoak, Gaby Sanchez, and Ike Davis.

Keeper Leagues (2011-2013)

2012 Fantasy: .300 BA, .900 OPS, 20-25 HR, 85 R, 90 RBI, 8 SB

2013 Fantasy: .310+ BA, .900+ OPS, 25+ HR, 90 R, 95 RBI, 10 SB

Think similar production to Billy Butler (always improving), Kendrys Morales (when healthy, which is exactly never), Justin Morneau (when he can see things...like light...or baseballs...), Ryan Howard, and Kevin Youkilis.

Dynasty Leagues (2011-2015)

2014 Fantasy: .315+ BA, .950+ OPS, 25-30 HR, 90 R, 100 RBI, 12 SB

2015 Fantasy: .320+ BA, .950+ OPS, 28-35 HR, 90 R, 100 RBI, 12 SB

Think similar production to Albert Pujols, Joey Votto, Miguel Cabrera, and Adrian Gonzalez. Legit. I kid you not.

Here are a few awesome quotes about Hosmer to keep you drooling...

“He is a stud. Long and athletic. He has a chance to hit .300 and 30 homers, and win a Gold Glove. [He could have] Jason Heyward-impact from last year.”

"Eric Hosmer is a physical specimen with a smooth, effortless swing that will produce a high average. He possesses a discerning eye to get on base, and he has prodigious power potential offensively, and cat-like quickness patrolling first base defensively."

"He’s a special player and should have an immediate impact. It’s high praise but not false praise — he reminds me of Joey Votto. I think he can hit 30-35 homers with plate discipline and also be one of the better base runners among first basemen."

And one more quote as sort of an homage to one of my favorite movies, Casablanca, that will not receive special indented quote preferential treatment because it is of my own intellect:

"Hosmer, I think know this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship bromance."

So what do you think? Is Hosmer the impending Top 5 Fantasy 1B I project him to be, or is he just another Alex Gordon, Drew Henson, Ruben Mateo, Corey Patterson, etc, etc, etc...?

And now...................APOLOGIES!

Apologies to...Daniel Day-Lewis, Daniel Plainview, HW Plainview, Comic-Con Fanboys, Teenyboppers, Jose Bautista, Joey Votto, E, Adrian Gonzalez, Kendrys Morales, Kila Ka'aihue, Kevin Youkilis, Justin Morneau, The Twelve Days of Christmas Song, Diddy, Step Brothers, Kevin Connolly, Entourage, Leprechauns, Prestige Worldwide, and most sincerely...Alex Gordon. Because it kind of, if you look at it in the right light, appears as if you maybe, on a good day, have begun to figure out, you know, how to hit.

Anyway, let me know what you think. Also, I would love to be part of the conversation that coined an awesome nickname for Hosmer, so please feel free to let me know of any and every nick you can think of so I can capitalize on your most certain creative genius. All suggestions appreciated.

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