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We continue our long-running series of articles debating fantasy rankings with a player that has ignited a good amount of debate over the last few months within our rankers.

RotoBaller's expert writers have come up with our consensus rankings for mixed leagues, but that doesn't mean we agreed on everything. In this space, we'll hear from rankers with the biggest differences of opinion on a well-known player and have them defend their position against each other.

Today, the topic is newly-signed first baseman Eric Hosmer. While both Nick and Bill are lower on Hosmer than other rankers, Nick is convinced he's still a top-100 player while Bill has dropped him outside his top 125. Let's get ready to rumble!

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2018 Draft Rankings Debate - Eric Hosmer

Ranking Tier Player Position Kyle Nick Pierre Jeff Harris Bill Composite
76 6 Eric Hosmer 1B 68 93 74 54 66 127 80.333

 

Nick Mariano's Ranking: #93 overall

An Apple a Day

While first base isn’t a terribly taxing position, durability is still an asset and Hosmer has it. He’s notched between 667-671 plate appearances in each of the last three seasons. He’s played in at least 150 games in five of his last six seasons, and we really can’t count his 2011 rookie campaign against him, can we? You might be surprised to learn that only 12 first-baggers topped 600 PAs in 2017, and only six eclipsed the 650 mark. It may not be the glitziest of production, but in this day and age where it feels like all available bench spots are utilized as triage for pitchers being skipped in the rotation with a boo-boo, Hosmer is an anchor.

Quiet Production

While he no longer steals double-digit bags like he did between 2011-13, the 28-year-old is still good for 5-7 swipes. He was one of just nine first-base eligible players to steal more than five bases last year, and that includes guys like Chase Headley, who you’re not playing there anyway. Hosmer’s sprint speed of 27.5 ft/sec (per Statcast), fourth-best for a 1B in ‘17, backs up the results. We know that speed is at a premium right now -- just look at where Dee Gordon is going -- but guys like Hosmer quietly allow you to not freak out about getting a burner who weighs down your other categories. And while I hate bringing up counting stats at all, let alone for a guy switching teams, it’s nice to see his R+RBI tallies of 191, 184 and 192 in the past three seasons.

But That Average is Sure to Fall!

Well, I agree! Once again, I’m the second-lowest on Hosmer here, but just because he’s unlikely to hit .318 again doesn’t mean he’s going to drop back down to .266 (2016’s mark). In ‘17, Hosmer’s overall 89.5 MPH average exit velocity was 50th out of hitters with at least 50 batted balls. And yes, his notorious ground-ball profile shows here. His line-drive/fly-ball AEV of 94.2 MPH was 80th, while his 87.4 MPH mark on grounders was 15th. If you consistently scorch grounders, they’re more likely to find holes. He doesn’t need a .351 BABIP again just to be a .300 hitter. Slipping from around .320 to ~.300 isn’t going to take him out of the top-100.

Now This is Padresing

Like I said, I don’t think there’s a big difference between SD and KC. Mentioning the Padres seems to elicit a knee-jerk “ew” reaction when it comes to fantasy appeal, but Wil Myers and Manuel Margot might outproduce the 2018 Royals by themselves. That was mean to Whit Merrifield, I’m sorry. While I can’t ignore that the Pads did finish dead last in runs scored last season (604), adding Hosmer helps and those youngsters are a year older. Also, Petco and Kauffman play pretty similarly for left-handed batters, and while I’d never pay up to match 2017’s numbers, he could certainly put up a 75-25-80-6-.300 line. Even rocking a fly-ball rate south of 25 percent in each of his last three campaigns, his actual batted-ball skills are capable of floating a HR/FB rate around 20 percent. I’m not happily taking Hosmer, but I’m not burying him either. All bets are off if pitchers just feed him sliders though, he’s batted below .200 against them in the last three years. He seems to make it work anyway.

 

Bill Dubiel's Ranking: #127 overall

Just an Average Average 

Eric Hosmer had a fantastic 2017, hitting .318 on his way to a Silver Slugger award. But how replicable is a batting average like that? Hosmer has always had a plus hit-tool, but before last season Hosmer averaged a .278 BA over the previous three seasons. That's what I feel safe expecting this year, not the ~.300 that Nick projects above. Why would things change so significantly from last season? In 2018 he may not have a .351 BABIP buoying his average. Hosmer was remarkably lucky last year, and it's certainly not something you can count on happening again when you're sitting in the draft room.

Petco Woes

Kaufmann Stadium is by no means a prolific hitter's park--it ranked 22nd in runs and 27th in homers in 2017. However, Petco Park is noticeably worse for offense, and that has to be factored in when projecting Hosmer. Petco is 29th in runs and 29th in homers. Petco is certainly friendlier to lefties than it is to righties, but barely. I'm afraid it's impossible to expect 25 homers again in 2018 with Hosmer moving to the cavernous Petco.

Why Draft Hosmer When You Could Have _____?

Per FantasyPros, Hosmer's current ADP sits at 75 overall, which places him ahead of a number of first basemen with MUCH higher upside. Within the first 100 picks, I'm looking for guys who can take me to a championship, not merely a guy who "won't hurt" my team, and that's what Hosmer is at his core. Nick preaches about his consistency, but consistency is synonymous with mediocrity in Hosmer's case.

Why not wait on first base, and instead wind up with a guy like Ian Desmond, who is a virtual lock for 15 homers (if not more at Coors) and 20 steals in addition to a legitimate batting average? Or maybe hunt for the next big thing and draft Matt Olson, who hit 24 home runs in just 59 games with the Athletics in 2017. Why not Matt Carpenter, who should at least match Hosmer's counting stats and is going in the 11th-13th rounds right now? There's no way I would be wasting top-100 draft capital on Hosmer when I can wait literally another 40-50 picks and get the exact same (if not better) numbers.

 

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