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Eric Hosmer is This Year’s Top 5 First Baseman

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Eric Hosmer is not a special guy by any mean, but his relative weak competition at 1B position can make him very valuable.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

This not a breakout alert. Eric Hosmer isn't doing anything special so far (2HR 2SB .314), and I don't think he will anytime this season.

He is not a typical 1B you are looking for at the draft. We have been spoiled with lots of power and high batting average from this offensive-minded position for so long that we overlook how Hosmer's nothing-flashy production can be valuable for our teams.

The biggest issue of the first base this year is the age. A traditional first baseman is neither best defender nor base runner. Most of them solely concentrate on getting bigger and hitting more home runs throughout their careers. Once they prove that they can be the best offensive guy on the roster, they are more likely to sign lucrative long-term deals as they have far less injury concerns compare to other position players, and their potent bats can simply be moved to DH roles in later years. Seriously, if you don't run hard or throw baseballs, you don't have enough excuse to get hurt (Side note: A lot of power-oriented hitters also hit less grounders. One of the most common hamstring injuries happen when the hitters have to sprint to the first base out of the batter's box, and if you are a fly ball hitter, you can certainly keep your mileage low).

For the last few years, we had so many those types of 1B superstars in the league, and most of the survivors are currently on the mid-way of their long-term deals. Most of these 5 to 10 year deals usually lock the players until their mid to late thirties, and since they are mostly expensive and healthy, it's difficult for the younger prospects to emerge.

Yahoo! O-Rank

Player

AGE

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

1

Paul Goldschmidt

28

11

5

15

1

0.261

2

Miguel Cabrera

33

7

1

6

0

0.206

3

Anthony Rizzo

26

14

8

21

1

0.203

4

Edwin Encarnación

33

8

2

11

0

0.273

5

José Abreu

29

6

3

8

0

0.183

6

Joey Votto

32

6

2

9

0

0.206

7

Chris Davis

30

17

6

13

0

0.230

8

Adrián González

33

9

3

15

0

0.351

9

Prince Fielder

31

4

2

14

0

0.181

10

Eric Hosmer

26

8

2

6

2

0.314

11

Freddie Freeman

26

7

1

5

0

0.177

12

David Ortiz

40

8

3

14

1

0.295

13

Albert Pujols

36

6

3

12

1

0.153

Average

31

9

3

11

0

0.233

Pre-Season Top 13 1B Stats as of 4/24/2016

This year, a lot of the top first basemen, such as Cabrera, Encarnacion, Abreu, Votto, Fielder, Freeman, and Pujols, are all off to a slow start. This is a long list especially considering that these guys were supposed to be leading their teams' offense, and it's not a trivial coincidence. The average age of the pre-season top 13 first basemen is 31, and only five of them are in their twenties. The MLB average of player's age is 28.7, so this is certainly a group of older people.

The players no longer hit 45 bombs when they are 39 years old. The league is getting younger, and it's because the younger players perform better. Sure. Many of the old guys will probably bounce back before the season is over, but not everyone will. We already have seen the best days of these players, and we are unsure where they are at their depreciation curves this year.

This is why the younger first basemen are so valuable. We know what we will get from those rare breeds since they are still in their primes. Moreover, since they are younger and still athletic, Goldschmidt, Rizzo, and Hosmer occasionally steal bases, which could be a huge advantage coming from a near zero SB group.

Rank

Player

PA

HR

RBI

R

AVG

SB

1

Paul Goldschmidt

576

26

81

81

0.288

11

2

Anthony Rizzo

572

29

88

81

0.275

9

3

Miguel Cabrera

541

23

81

76

0.310

2

4

Jose Abreu

578

28

87

75

0.277

1

5

Eric Hosmer

573

17

74

68

0.286

6

6

Chris Davis

554

34

88

77

0.246

2

7

Joey Votto

560

19

66

76

0.282

5

8

Prince Fielder

561

20

77

71

0.286

1

9

Byung-ho Park

483

27

71

62

0.255

5

10

Freddie Freeman

557

20

70

67

0.277

3

11

Edwin Encarnacion

483

26

77

67

0.262

2

12

Wil Myers

503

19

60

57

0.256

9

13

Hanley Ramirez

439

16

62

56

0.280

7

14

David Ortiz

495

23

77

68

0.275

1

15

Albert Pujols

522

24

76

63

0.255

4

Steamer based Top 15 1B Rest of the Season as of 4/24/2016

After the slow start of the first basemen group, Steamer responded with reduced projection for most of the older players. As a result, while he isn't supposed to do anything special this year, Hosmer's relative value within the group has gone up. The key is that 1B is no longer a group of elite power hitters, and Hosmer has chance to shine while a lot of the former All-Stars are going through their downturns.

Gamers, don't just sleep on your old first baseman's sluggish start. It could be an ominous sign of the bigger things to come, but you still have chance to cut your loss. The young exciting duo of Rizzo and Goldschmidt are probably out of reach, so targeting the other 26-year-old Hosmer could be a smarter move. Hosmer isn't having a particularly good year yet, so his owner might be intrigued if you throw him brand names like Encarnacion, Votto, Gonzalez, or Fielder. Some of these guys can end up having good year, but the problem is that we don't know who actually can. Moreover, the risk is not worthwhile since these guys' upsides are limited as they get older (But it's possible we haven't seen the best days of Hosmer yet). By the time you sort all out, it could be already too late, so act now.