Eric Hosmer- I feel like its been a couple of months since I last lambasted owners for hanging onto Eric Hosmer. I wanted to go on record again with fantasy owners that Hosmer should absolutely be going undrafted in standard formats next season. In fact, let's compare two players: Player A- .289/.337/.385, 9 HR, 55 Runs, 66 RBIs, 4 SB, Owned in 23% of leagues; Player B- .268/.312/.380, 6 HR, 46 Runs, 48 RBIS, 4 SB, Owned in 57% of leagues. At best, these players are very similar. At worst, Player A is far superior. Player A- James Loney, who most of us would not draft in a standard format. Player B- Eric Hosmer, who many will draft because of name recognition and former prospect hype. If you aren't learning from your mistakes and the sample sizes of past seasons, you are doing yourself a disservice. We've been through the contact rates, the metrics and why Eric Hosmer is a bad buy in fantasy. If I can get you to take one thought into this off-season, let it be that James Loney was better than Eric Hosmer in fantasy in 2014. Let this guy be someone else's problem in 2015.
Adam Jones- Adam Jones went deep for the 25th time this season on Tuesday night. Jones continues to be one of the elite outfielders in the game, but there has been some sign of erosion in his skill set that is worth mentioning heading into next season. Jones' contact rates have changed enough to elicit comment. The two most concerning issues relate to how well Jones makes contact with the ball. Jones' line drive rate has gone down for the second consecutive year from 21.5% in 2012 to 17.7% in 2014. This decrease is a bit concerning, but it does not seem to have ultimately altered Jones' batting average during that time period so we can file it away under items of interest for now. The issue that is disturbing is the sudden drop off in Jones' HR/FB rate, which dropped to 14.9% after being almost 5% higher in 2013. This is his lowest HR/FB in the past four seasons, and it is concerning to see it occur as Jones gets closer to 30. The issue of whether he is leaving his power prime has to be discussed. Jones is looking at three year lows in both home runs and stolen bases this season. While this may seem like nitpicking, it is worth noting for a player that will cost you a top 3-4 round selection in the 2015 draft season. I don't mind owning Jones in 2015, but I'm not interested in paying a premium for him after what we have seen this year.
Michael Brantley- After calming down a bit in August, Michael Brantley is right back to hitting like an All Star in September. The Indians outfielder spent the better part of the summer as one of the premiere hitters in the American League. The key to Brantley's fantasy emergence and his continued success beyond this season will be his ability to hit for power. His 18 home runs almost double a career high. The good news for Brantley is that he has hit the "power prime" age group where he should be able to maintain this type of power for a couple of years. Owners expecting another significant jump in Brantley's power may be kidding themselves though. He does not hit enough fly balls to become a truly dominant power hitter (28.8% Fly Ball Rate, which is representative of his larger sample). I'd say he is a strong bet to maintain 15-20 home runs for several seasons while being able to contribute 15-20 steals and provide solid counting stats in the middle of the Indians lineup. He should be selected early next season, but I wouldn't go out and expect him to hit 5-10 more home runs in 2015. I have a feeling his power is getting close to peaking unless he starts hitting the ball in the air significantly more.Oswaldo Arcia- Oswaldo Arcia did what he does best on Tuesday night. He went yard. Arcia. You won't get much average out of the Twins outfielder although his .274 BABIP will probably regress come 2015 slightly. What you will get is a ton of power. Arcia has flashed really solid power in his entire Major League sample, and there is no reason to think he won't challenge for 25+ home runs if given regular playing time in 2015. He has shown the ability to put the ball in the air (career 41.7% Fly Ball Rate) and 17% of those fly balls left the yard in 2014. If he is still available in your league, he probably can be picked up for a bit of power during your league's playoffs and/or a last ditch effort at picking up a point in roto formats. In 2015, I like him as a value play. His 30% K Rate will limit his value as it drags down his average, but at age 24, he has the chance to be cheap power late in standard format drafts.Jacoby Ellsbury- Ellsbury hit his 15th home run of the season on Tuesday night. Ellsbury has had a fairly awesome fantasy campaign, but it has been a bit different from his 2013 season. Ellsbury is on pace to steal 40-42 bags on the season, which would leave him 10 short of his 2013 campaign. Where he may have lost some speed, Ellsbury has added a bit of power as his 15 homers is the highest total since his ridiculous 2011 campaign. Fantasy owners will have to tread carefully with Ellsbury in 2015. The speed decrease is far more concerning than the power increase. His value is truly tied to his legs for fantasy purposes, as it is unlikely that Ellsbury will ever hit for enough home runs to make that his key contribution. Additionally, his HR/FB rate has fluctuated so substantially during his career that it is almost impossible to say whether this year's 9.9% is the new standard or just another peak waiting for a valley. Overall, I think fantasy owners probably have another year or two with Ellsbury being a 10-30 or 10-40 threat, but I don't think we can say for sure that this new found power is here to stay.
Today's American League Player Blog was brought to you by Nicholas Rossoletti. You can follow Nicholas on Twitter @NRoss56
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