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Showdown: Josh Bell vs. Eric Hosmer

by NBC Sports EDGE Staff
Updated On: February 27, 2021, 10:10 am ET

To celebrate both baseball's return and the launch of our 2021 MLB Draft Guide, we're going to be taking looks at what we have to offer all the way up to Opening Day. With a loaded arsenal of content -- from positional rankings, ADP reports and season-long projections, to mock drafts, projected lineups and draft cheat sheets -- we are as proud as we've ever been of what we've put together and are eager to share it with you in the coming weeks. No matter the format or size of your league, we are confident we can deliver the tools you need to secure that championship hardware.

Today, we'll be giving you a look at the guide's exclusive Player Showdown column series with the below excerpt from the first basemen.

Josh Bell vs. Eric Hosmer

Bell

This looks to be a classic example of how much we're willing to trust the results of a 60-game sprint during the 2020 season versus what we saw over a full season in 2019. Josh Bell was an absolute monster in the first half of 2019 and wound up delivering the type of season that many had long predicted he was capable of -- smashing 37 home runs and driving in 116 in an underwhelming Pirates lineup. Now, he gets to hit behind the likes of Trea Turner and Juan Soto in Washington. Bell, like many hitters, struggled during the 2020 season. He posted an uncharacteristically high strikeout rate of 26.5% -- seven percent higher than anything he had ever done in his big league career. Meanwhile, Eric Hosmer turned back the clock in 2020 and posted a terrific five-category campaign, slashing .287/.333/.517 with nine homers and four swipes. He has never hit more than 25 homers in a season though and simply can't compare to the power potential that Bell brings to the table. Hosmer is also three years older and missed time in September due to a fractured finger. If it's close -- which this seems to be according to public perception -- I'll side with youth and upside every single time, and in this case that's Josh Bell. – Dave Shovein (@DaveShovein)

Hosmer

For years, Hosmer was the first baseman you wound up rostering when your Plan A and maybe also your Plan B didn’t work out. So why am I eager about scooping him up in drafts this year? Well, last season he finally started to do the thing we’ve been begging him to do his entire career – hit more fly balls. Hosmer set out to increase his launch angle in 2020 and did just that, more than doubling his previous career high. He was able to accomplish lofting the ball more while also setting a career high with a 10.3 percent barrel rate and having his lowest strikeout rate (17.9 percent) in three years. Perhaps the shortened season and Hosmer missing time with injury has some dubious that the changes will stick, but this is a conscious choice he made and something he worked at, so I’m buying into it. It wouldn’t surprise me if we see Hosmer’s first 30-homer season in 2021, and as the projected cleanup hitter on one of the better offenses in baseball, he could drive in a ton of runs. Bell might very well bounce back in a better situation with the Nationals. He did still hit the ball very hard in 2020. However, he also lost all of his launch angle gains and saw his strikeout rate spike to 26.5 percent. There’s risk there, much more than there is with Hosmer. – Ryan Boyer (@RyanPBoyer)

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