Fantasy Baseball All Access: Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins, Aaron Nola and More
RotoExperts At the Park: The Phillies, plus Todd Frazier
Here are some of my latest exclusive interviews with some of your key Fantasy Baseball players. This edition focuses mainly on the Philadelphia Phillies.
Rhys Hoskins Not Taking Anything for Granted
As Fantasy players well know, Philadelphia’s newest slugger exploded onto the Fantasy scene last season, but in this interview, he says there are no guarantees based on the tremendous 2017 success. Hoskins clearly states that he knows he is not even guaranteed to stay in the majors if he does not keep hitting. He has started well after a strong spring, with eight hits in 17 at-bats. That is encouraging so far after he hit .227 last September, and as he indicates here, he knows baseball is a constant game of adjustments. Having a mentality that he cannot rest easy at any time in the majors can certainly spur more success. Sure, there will be cold spells for Hoskins over a long season, but he still hit seven homers last September when he was not hitting as well overall. If you drafted him early, there seem to be no major signs of any regrets coming yet.
Aaron Nola: Improved last year, now it’s about health
In 2016, Aaron Nola struggled with inconsistency and injuries, and was a disappointment to many Fantasy leaguers who drafted him. Last year seemed like more of the same as he started the year 2-3 with a 5.06 ERA, but then he fashioned a 3.18 ERA the rest of the way while winning 10 games. Nola had 103 strikeouts in 87.2 innings pitched after the All-Star break. Last year, he nearly doubled the use of his changeup, from 8.7 to 15.6 percent. Here he says it is still a work in progress, but Fantasy owners confidently drafted Nola this year with the hopes that his second half could spring into a true breakout season in 2018. So far this year he has not earned a decision or gone six innings in two starts, with a 2.61 ERA and 1.16 WHIP. Nola has yet to truly get into a groove, and even better results should be on the way. But it won’t be easy to get victories on the current Philadelphia ballclub. Still, Nola talks about his offseason workout regimen and how he utilized it in an effort to stay healthy this year. If he is not sidelined for any extended period this year, Fantasy owners should be very encouraged about his overall outlook.
Scott Kingery: Ready for versatility
It was something of a surprise to see Scott Kingery break camp and come north with the Phillies, even after an impressive spring. Even Kingery himself was among those who may have not fully expected it. But obviously Gabe Kapler and his staff felt they could not keep the top prospect in the minors, and could definitely utilize his power/speed promise. Last year he hit 26 homers and stole 29 bases at two minor league levels. He is going to play all infield positions except 1B and is getting looks in the OF too as Kapler finds unique ways to keep his at-bats in the lineup. If you drafted Kingery late, hold onto him for the potential multi-positional eligibility and offensive potential. It would surprise no one if he eventually pushed someone like Maikel Franco out of a regular job. Kingery fashioned a .295 ISO at Double-A in 69 games last year, but it fell to .155 in 63 Triple-A games. We will have to see how much of his power is for real in the majors, but he should at least hit in the range of 12-14 HRs if he gets 450 ABs.
Todd Frazier: More than meets the statistical eyes
The Mets brought in Todd Frazier not just because of his power potential, but also because he has a strong clubhouse presence. Frazier here talks about his nickname and his unique walk-up music. But he also discusses the frustrations of free agency this past offseason. Fantasy players who use OBP instead of batting average will know Frazier can be more valuable in formats that use OBP, and he talks about his approach here. Listening to Frazier, though, his strong and engaging personality shines through, but he is not afraid to be candid when called for. While Fantasy owners pretty much know what they are getting with Frazier statistically, they may not be aware of what he brings to a ballclub from an intangibles perspective. He has essentially filled David Wright’s role as a locker room leader type who can also be solid with the glove and pop HRs throughout the year. Frazier may turn out to be a better real-life player than Fantasy player in many cases this year, but if you compete in the OBP format, you will like him just fine overall. His 14.4 percent BB rate could be here to stay in that range.
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