Welcome to part two of an ongoing series where I take a lot of heat in the comments for telling you why you should draft one player who is going significantly later in drafts than another player. Last week saw me sliding-in cleat first at the catcher position and now I’m going to take on the lumberjacks at first base.
Swinging out of the ‘not that’ corner is the first basemen we’ve all been forced to draft over the past 3 or 4 years when we realized we were the last owner without a first basemen: Eric Hosmer. And lining up across from him in the ‘draft this’ corner is the recently lonely first sacker: Justin Bour.
When you’re thinking about drafting a first basemen you’re looking for at least 30 HR, at least 85 RBI, a respectable average above .275 and at least 240 pounds. AT LEAST! What is Hosmer? 220? 225 soaking wet?! Get that crap out of here! According to Baseball Reference Bour weighs a beefy 265 pounds. That is a whole 4th grader more than Hosmer! End of article. What more is there to know?
But just for article’s sake let’s start off with power numbers. In 2017 there were 23 first basemen-eligible batters who hit over 25 HRs. In 2016 there were 17. In both years Hosmer wasn’t one of them. In 2015 he wasn’t one of them. Spoiler alert: Hosmer has never been one of them. To be fair neither has Bour. However, in 2017 they both did reach 25 although — look closely — it took Bour 294 fewer ABs. Eric Hosmer’s 24.1 AB/HR (79th overall) would’ve had him ranked right behind first base “slugger” Mitch Moreland. If Bour would’ve stayed healthy and hitting for all of 2017 his 15.1 AB/HR would’ve had him tied with another first base slugger, Paul Goldschmidt, for 17th in all of baseball. Not bad company for him.
However if if’s and but’s were candy and nuts we’d all draft an All-Star first basemen. Bour missed a combined 117 games between 2016 and 2017. His major injury last season was a strained oblique — a death knell injury for any hitter. Mitch Haniger was on his way towards rookie of the year consideration season in 2017 until a strained oblique torpedoed the rest of his season. However, I think it’s a bit premature to label Bour as injury prone. He’s heading into 2018 healthy and is the major center piece of the new look Marlins. It’s not necessarily a good look — but it is a look nonetheless.
Comparing Bour’s line-up to Hosmer’s is obviously impossible until Hosmer signs. But in this offseason who knows if that will ever happen. But I guess it couldn’t get any worse than Miami’s right? Well let’s take a closer look at who Bour could be hitting behind. Obviously, the loss of the National League MVP and a player with a .369 OBP will hurt Bour drastically, but the guys hitting in front of him for 2018 aren’t as terrible as everyone might think. According to Roster Resource JT Realmuto, Martin Prado and Starlin Castro are set-up to bat in front of Bour and they combined for a .328 OBP last season which is actually about on par with the 2017 league average of .324. If Bour can continue to hit for a .327 AVG and a 1.014 OPS with runners in scoring position he should continue to put up solid RBI numbers. Also, if new addition Lewis Brinson lives up to his prospect potential he’ll only further help Bour by either swapping line-up spots with Martin Prado or provide some protection behind Bour.
Wherever Hosmer ends up he’s likely to end up with more runs than Bour. The guys hitting behind Bour might not even have names. I’m not even going to look. You shouldn’t either. But HRs should go to Bour, depending on Hosmer’s line-up RBI could be a push, and SBs will go to Hosmer by a game-changing 5. As for their ratios Bour’s 4 season career slashes are: .273/.346/.489 compare favorably to Hosmer’s 7 season line of .284/.342/.439. Over their careers Hosmer and Bour have comparable plate discipline numbers as well: Bour has a .47 BB/K rate and Hosmer has a .50. Also, Hosmer’s career high .318 average last season was fueled by a .351 BABIP which was the 14th highest in all of the MLB last season. If Hosmer hits for a .301 BABIP with a 19.8% K/rate like 2016 his average could tumble to .266 again. Last season was only the second time in seven seasons he hit over .300 as well.
But, you’re right comments section, Hosmer is the safer pick. But you’re not safe, right? You’re a baaaad girl. A bad girl in search of value! As with last week — the most important number to look at here for fantasy baseball is that ADP. According to Fantrax Hosmer’s ADP is hovering around pick 77 right now while Bour can be had around pick 184. There’s nothing particularly wrong with Hosmer, but getting drafted around 107 picks before Bour is something particularly wrong. In some leagues you might accidentally be the one who takes first base depth for granted and ends up with the tough decision of whether you want to draft Hosmer in round 6 or 7. For that price you could take everyone’s favorite oft-injured Cy Young sleeper James Paxton (ADP: 79), if you lack morals you could draft slugger Miguel Sano (82) or you could even grab second basemen Whit Merrifield (88) once he’s done presenting the weather for Wake Up Kansas City! Even if he may or may not find himself on the wrong side of Draft This, Not That next week.