Breakout: OF Rhys Hoskins
A fantasy owner can’t blame opportunity when looking at Hoskins in 2019. He played 160 games with 705 plate appearances, but he made much weaker contact (CTBA – .325) with a higher strikeout rate (24.5).
His walk rate (16.5) was exceptional, along with his RBI chances (446). Unfortunately, Hoskins posted a very poor RBI rate (13). His average hit rate (2.008) screams 40-plus home runs, which is helped by a massive fly-ball rate (50.4).
In 2017 in his hot 50 games, he had a monster HR/FB rate (31.6). When out of rhythm, Hoskins hits a ton of infield fly balls, leading to easy outs and some risk in batting average. His HR/FB rate (14.3) was his lowest level since 2015 in the minors.
Right-handed pitchers held him to a .215 batting average with 20 home runs and 58 RBI over 432 at-bats.
Hoskins played the best in April (.279 with eight home runs and 24 RBI over 104 at-bats) while fading off into the sunset in August and September (.166 with six HRs and 17 RBI over 183 at-bats).
His hard-hit rate (38.7 – 191st) wasn't special, but it ranked 22nd in 2017 (45.2).
In a way, pitchers at the major league level have figured him out, which means pitching higher up in the zone with the idea of weaker contact. Right kind of gamble for runs, home runs, and RBI based on his ADP (115).
His minor league resume says neutral batting average. I’ll take .265 with over 100 runs, 35-plus home runs, and 110-plus RBI. With a better overall feeling about his play, Hoskins should even chip in with some steals. Viable target and possible fun pairing with Bryce Harper.
Breakout: 3B Scott Kingery
Kingery is on the come-up, but his strikeout rate (29.4) does deter his growth at this point in his career.
A fantasy owner has to be attracted to his combination of home runs (19) and speed (15 SBs) while adding in an improved average hit rate (1.839) and contact batting average (.379). His walk rate (6.8) remains below the league average.
Kingery flashed in June (.295 with seven HRs, 16 RBI, and three SBs over 105 at-bats), but his bat was exposed with a full-time job after the All-Star break (.230 with eight HRs, 28 RBI, and ten SBs over 256 at-bats) while striking out 86 times (30.5 percent).
Over four seasons in the minors, he hit .283 with 34 home runs, 134 RBI, and 71 stolen bases over 1,340 at-bats. His strikeout rate (16.5) in the minors does paint a better picture. His HR/FB rate (15.2) matched his success in 2017 at AA (15.7).
Not a lock, but worth a fight based on his ADP (156). Next step: a 20/20 season with a chance at neutral runs and RBI. A fantasy owner has to bet on the come with his batting average.
Value: SP Aaron Nola
After an excellent 2018 season (2.37 ERA and 0.975 WHIP), Nola threw fewer first-pitch strikes (62) with a significant regression in his walk rate (3.6 – 2.5 in 2018) and HR/9 rate (1.2 – 0.7 in 2018).
His season started with three straight poor showings in April (15 runs, 25 baserunners, and five home runs over 13.1 innings). He had a correction over his next eights (2.78 ERA and 55 Ks over 45.1 innings) before tripping up again in his first three games in June (14 runs and 26 baserunners over 16.1 innings with 16 Ks). Nola rose from the dead again over his next 14 starts (2.21 ERA, .183 BA, and 104 Ks over 93.2 innings) before burying fantasy owners again in September (20 runs and 45 baserunners over 27.2 innings).
His arm played well at home (6-2 with a 2.91 ERA and 139 Ks over 117.1 innings) while being a tough start on the road (5.19 ERA).
He had almost the same value against righties (.227) and lefties (.240).
His AVB (93.5) was a career-high while increasing each year in the majors. Nola has an elite curveball (.201 BAA) and edge changeup (.192 BAA). Both his four-seamer (.259 BAA) and sinker (.327 BAA) had a lot less value than 2018 (.212 and .189).
In division play, Nola draws a ton of top arms, making wins sketchy at times. His ADP (56) makes him a viable cheat ace. In 2019, he pitched great in two-thirds of his starts. His career walk rate (2.5) before 2019 suggests he returns in a big way in 2020. Don't be shy here.
Deep Sleeper: SP Spencer Howard
Over his two seasons in college, Howard went 11-2 with a 2.24 ERA and 136 strikeouts over 124.1 innings. Philadelphia drafted him in the second round of the 2017 MLB June Amateur Draft.
After some success in 2018 at A Ball (3.78 ERA and 147 Ks over 112 innings), Howard looked sharp over short innings (71.0) in 2019 (2.03 ERA and 94 Ks). His step forward came from improvement in his walk rate (2.) while already owning an elite strikeout rate (12.0).
He has a mid-90s fastball and swing and miss slider, but his changeup still needs more consistency.
Howard missed some development time in 2019 with a sore right shoulder. His arm should be moved-up quickly while having somewhat of an innings cap.
Bust: SP Vince Velasquez
If Philadelphia wants to make a push up in the NL East standings, they need to stop giving starts to pitchers with no chance of success.
Over his last 79 games, Velasquez went 18-27 with a 4.93 ERA and 359 strikeouts over 336 innings. His strikeout rate (9.8) is enticing in the majors, and he did lower his walk rate (3.3) in each of the previous two years.
His failure last year came from 26 home runs allowed over 117.1 innings (2.0 per nine) while being easier to hit (.262).
Velasquez had a 2.84 ERA and 27 strikeouts over his first five starts, but he pitched his way to the injury list (forearm) and the bullpen in his next start (five runs and nine baserunners over four innings).
Over his final 14 starts, he had a 5.05 ERA and 70 strikeouts over 66 innings with much of the damage coming from 14 home runs.
His AFB (94.5) has been in a tight range over the last four years. His only pitch of value in 2019 was his four-seamer (.221 BAA). He threw a better slider in 2017 (.185 BAA) and 2018 (.185 BAA). His two-pitch arsenal screams bullpen arm. Only a tease even with some early success in 2020. Closer to TJ surgery than an ace.
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