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2015 Sleeper Series: Royal first baseman Eric Hosmer doesn't hit hosmeruns

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Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer has been the definition of disappointment the last few years. Can he build on his strong playoff performance in 2015?

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Today, I continue the series where I profile some fantasy baseball sleepers that could help you win your leagues in 2015. Every year, fantasy owners are looking for that late round hitter/pitcher who could help them deal with underperformance from an early round pick, or with an unexpected injury. Some will be busts, some will help you along the way.

I like to define a sleeper as a player who is one of the lower ranked players in standard leagues who could come out of nowhere to outperform their preseason ranking/value. Last season, we saw plenty of players come out of nowhere to help fantasy teams including Charlie BlackmonDee GordonSteve PearceCarlos Carrasco, among many others.

I will begin with the American League East division teams, in order of the 2014 standings, and proceed with the AL Central, AL West and so on.

You can find links to my other sleepers below:

2015 Sleeper Series: Jonathan Schoop

2015 Sleeper Series: Yankees Starter Michael Pineda

2015 Sleeper Series: Blue Jays Outfielder Michael Saunders

2015 Sleeper Series: Rays starter Jake Odorizzi

2015 Sleeper Series: Red Sox Outfielder Shane Victorino

2015 Sleeper Series: Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos

Eric Hosmer

I have been driving the Eric Hosmer is a top 10 fantasy first baseman bus for the past two years, but after last year's performance, I drove that bus for the last time. I put that seatbelt on no longer, as I have had to sweat too many shortstop-like power seasons. Actually, there were ten shortstops who hit more home runs than Hosmer last season, including Jordy Mercer of all people!!!

If you look real close, Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy had a down year in 2014, and he basically had the same season as Hosmer. Hosmer was bad….real bad last season. If you drop the "s" in his last name, you get Homer, and homer is something that he shied away from. He hit .270-.318-.398 with 9 hosmeruns (see what I did there?) , 54 runs scored and 58 RBI in 547 plate appearances last season. Not only did he not hit for power, his home runs fell by almost 50%, but after four consecutive seasons of double digit stolen bases, he rewards his owners with FOUR stolen bases. FOUR!!! Not only that, but his walk rate was his worst since 2011, and his strikeout rate was his worst since he spent time in Low A.

Is there a silver lining in all of this? Well, yeah. He is still only 25 years of age, and still owns the skills that led some (looking at you, Keith Law) to call Hosmer an MVP candidate. Where is George Brett when you need him? Hosmer might do his fantasy owners some favors by spending the majority of his time in spring training with Brett, because he broke out in 2013 after Brett spent a few months as the Royals hitting coach.

Here's another stat that could help him outperform his draft day value in 2015. Here is a list of his HR/FB% over the past four season:

2011: 13.5%

2012: 11.3%

2013: 13.0%

2014: 6.8%

One of those percentages doesn't belong, and should regress to the mean of around 12%, so his home run total should be back in the 16-20 range in 2015. And with that, his runs scored and RBI should increase as well.

Hosmer is currently ranked as the 16th best fantasy first baseman according to the NFBC average draft position rankings over at NESN. That is several spots higher than where I have him ranked in my 2015 first base rankings. Frankly, I would draft Adam LaRoche, Brandon Belt and a few others before Hosmer this year.

Steamer project Hosmer to hit .278-.339-.440 with 19 home runs, 76 runs scored, 77 RBI and 7 stolen bases in 2015, and I think they are spot on in their projections. There is a small chance he exceeds their projections, but owners will be happy with those stats in the new low run scoring environment in major league baseball.

A 20 home run, 80 RBI hitter is the new 30 home run, 90 RBI hitter from yesteryear.

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