2018 Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep: Eric Hosmer doesn't help himself with move to the Padres but doesn't hurt himself too much either
The Padres made a rare free agent splash Saturday, agreeing to an eight-year deal with Eric Hosmer. Scott White considers the Fantasy Baseball implications.
The Padres doubled their number of mixed league-capable bats late Saturday. They did it with another first baseman.
Which means their returning first baseman, Wil Myers, will be relocating to the outfield, a position with which he's already familiar. It also means one of their few bats who was at least verging on mixed league capability, be it Jose Pirela or Hunter Renfroe, is out of job.
And those are the most notable aspects of the Eric Hosmer signing for Fantasy Baseball purposes. Myers becomes dual-eligible (or at least will five appearances into 2018), making his 30-20 potential an even more justifiable use of a fifth-round pick. Pirela and Renfroe become a little less interesting in whatever leagues they mattered in the first place.
As for Hosmer himself, not a whole lot changes.
I mean that mostly in a negative way. With him, as with the Milwaukee-bound Christian Yelich, we've had reason to wonder what his numbers might look like if he didn't play in such a poor environment for hitters, but now he's in one of the few that's worse. And while the Royals had the third-worst offense in the AL last year -- a number that likely won't improve this year -- the Padres had the worst in all the majors.
So yes, it's a bad park and a bad supporting cast, but in a way, it's exactly what Hosmer is used to.
And how has that gone for him? Well, he has his share of detractors. There's a reason he's only the 10th first baseman in the FantasyPros consensus rankings even though he finished sixth in both Rotisserie and Head-to-Head points last season, but I'd be remiss not to point out, ahem, he finished sixth in both Rotisserie and Head-to-Head points last season. That's even with the factors working against him.
The ballpark issue actually hasn't been a big deal because his greatest weakness also makes him sort of immune to it. He rarely elevates the ball, consistently delivering one of the lowest fly-ball rates among full-time hitters, which makes the distance of the fences not as big of a deal to him. He also hits the ball almost evenly between right, center and left field, which means, again, he's not so focused on hitting the ball out of the yard.
We generally want our first basemen to hit the ball out of the yard. In 2018, we generally want everybody to. And Hosmer did 25 times each of the last two years -- a respectable enough total. But because he so rarely elevated the ball, he needed an elite home run-to-fly ball rate to do so -- one thought to be unsustainable. Hence, the detractors.
But he has done it two years in a row now, so I for one am growing wary of the skepticism. His contact rate and batted-ball profile should always yield a high batting average, and he seems to be maximizing his power output. And he's doing it in bad parks with mostly underwhelming hitters around him. Sure, I would have liked to see him go to the Red Sox and wear out the Green Monster with his opposite-field hitting prowess, but whatever. This move's fine for him.
Now Renfroe, that's another story.
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