One for the money

Next-level statistical indicators point to a big year from Eric Hosmer. Peter G. Aiken/US Presswire

A version of this story appears in the March 5 issue of ESPN The Magazine.

EVEN THOUGH HE HAS BARELY exhausted his rookie eligibility and plays for a team that hasn't reached the postseason since 1985, Eric Hosmer is now officially a member of baseball's 1 percent.

Two recent events make his elite-class standing perfectly clear: 1. An offseason invitation from Alex Rodriguez to practice hitting at his home in Miami, along with Yankees hitting instructor Kevin Long. 2. A bat given to him in September with the message "When I retire, I'll be pumped to watch you on my couch for the next 15 years." Signed: Jim Thome. For those of you counting at home, that's two future Hall of Famers and the weight of 1,233 home runs filling a bandwagon that's about to come busting through your fantasy league.