Rhys Hoskins Is Being Overvalued in Fantasy Baseball
Fantasy owners always want to have the next big thing on their rosters.
I mean, ask Aaron Judge owners how it felt to have him on their teams last year, a slugging youngster who came out of nowhere to lead the American League in just about every offensive category. And if you have Judge in a dynasty league, you're ecstatic.
Fantasy owners want to find that young, up-and-coming player who could explode onto the scene and this year, Philadelphia Phillies outfielder/first baseman Rhys Hoskins seems to be that guy for a lot of people.
Hey, that's understandable. Hoskins set a Major League record by hitting 18 home runs in his first 34 games last year, a pace unmatched in baseball history.
It probably would have been more had he not tired at the end of the season. Between Triple-A and the bigs, Hoskins played 165 games, not including the Futures Game at midseason, and fatigue may have been at play over the final two weeks, when he went without a homer.
But that 34-game streak has people drooling. It's understandable. But is that hot streak -- a stretch he probably won't ever duplicate for the rest of his career -- causing fantasy owners to draft him too high in season-long drafts?
The answer is, yes.
Why So High
Hoskins is certainly going to be a productive big league slugger. Aside from his bombs last year, he also showed remarkable plate discipline for a rookie power hitter.
In 212 plate appearances in 2017, Hoskins walked 17.5% of the time and struck out just 21.7% of the time, allowing him to post an on-base percentage of .396. And while that walk rate was higher than his career average in the minors, he walked a lot in Double-A (12.1% walk rate) and Triple-A (13.5%), too.
Hoskins' power was consistent throughout the minors, as well. While in Reading, a noted hitter's park, Hoskins slammed 38 dingers in 2016, and then in a more neutral park in Lehigh Valley, he blasted 29 homers in 115 games. The power and patience has always been there, giving one confidence he'll be able to do that at the big-league level moving forward.
But in fantasy baseball, you want to minimize risk. And given where Hoskins is being drafted, fantasy owners are treating him like he's a sure thing.
The table below features Hoskins' current average draft position (ADP), per FantasyPros, and compares it to one long-time veteran and another young power hitter who had a comparable season to Hoskins in 2017.
Hoskins is being drafted, on average, 43rd overall, which makes him a mid-third-rounder in 12-team fantasy leagues. That's ahead of a player like Edwin Encarnacion, who has put up consistent power and on-base numbers for a much longer period of time.
Since 2012, here are Encarnacion's home run totals: 42, 36, 34, 39, 42 and 38. Over the last six years, he's never had a weighted on base average (wOBA) below .373 or a weighted runs created (wRC+) below 132. Yes, at 35 years old, he's not getting any younger, and it's fair to wonder when this run of production will end. But it hasn't yet and there aren't any signs that it will stop in 2018.
Unless you're in a keeper league, Encarnacion is the safer play.
Risk is something you should save for later rounds, where another young power hitter, the Oakland Athletics' Matt Olson, is a far more economical buy. Olson actually hit six more homers than Hoskins in just four additional plate appearances last season, and he had an insane little homer binge of his own.
In one 23-game stretch from August 27 through September 22, Olson blasted 16 home runs with a slash line of .294/.388/.871. On the season, his wOBA was slightly lower than Hoskins', but his wRC+ was higher. And yet, Olson is being drafted in the middle of the 10th round in 12-team leagues. Olson's is also quite a bit cheaper in auction leagues, where Hoskins is going for $21 and Olson can be had for $14.
Hoskins may turn out to be the better player than Olson. In limited MLB action last season, Hoskins had a better walk rate than Olson (17.5% to 10.2%) and a better strikeout rate (21.7% to 27.8%), too. But the difference in value between the two players may bridge that gap, especially if you've been careful to add walks and avoid strikeouts at other positions.
Hoskins is certainly a fascinating player, and he could be the 45-homer, high-on-base, low-strikeout guy everyone hopes they are drafting. But the wiser course may be to pay less and nab Olson for a lot cheaper in your fantasy drafts this spring.