Eric Hosmer: Turning on the Power

Ed Zurga

Ray Guilfoyle profiles Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, and thinks he will have a big second half for fantasy owners.

No Roto Roundup today. Instead, I wanted to write a profile on a player who has disappointed fantasy owners for about a year and a half now. But, since the Royals hired George Brett to be their hitting coach, first baseman Eric Hosmer has started to hit, and hit with more power.

HIs overall numbers thus far are again disappointing, but he has shown improvement at the plate since the team brought on Brett. Back on May 30th, the Royals hired Hall of Famer George Brett to be their hitting coach, and the Royals have started to hit better as a team, as a result. But, Hosmer seems to have benefitted the most from the hiring. Since Brett came aboard, Hosmer is now hitting in the upper third of the Royals lineup, usually second or third. Prior to Brett coming aboard, Hosmer was hitting anywhere from fourth to ninth in the Royals lineup.

HIs season stats thus far: .282-.332-.427 with 9 HRs, 45 runs, 38 RBI and 7 stolen bases mask some improvements at the plate since the beginning of the season. Here is a look at Hosmer's monthly hitting splits, courtesy of Baseball-Reference:

Split G AB R H 2B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
April/March 22 72 7 18 4 0 8 2 0 9 18 .250 .337 .306 .643 22
May 28 108 11 29 4 1 8 1 2 6 14 .269 .307 .352 .659 38
June 27 109 21 33 6 6 17 4 1 8 13 .303 .347 .541 .889 59
July 5 20 6 7 0 2 5 0 0 1 1 .350 .364 .650 1.014 13
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/7/2013.

As you can see from the table above, since the Brett hiring, Hosmer has hit .303-.347-.541 with 6 HRs, 21 runs scored, 17 RBI and a solid 13-8 strikeout to walk rate. Pretty darn good. He drove in 17 runs in the month of June, one more than he did in the first two months of the season. He hit six home runs in June, along with six doubles, which was three more extra base hits than he had in April and May combined. His walk rate, SLG, and stolen base total increased in June as well.

And he has continued to hit for power in July, as well. It is a small sample size for sure, but in five games this month, he is hitting .350-.364-.650 with 2 HRs, 6 runs and 5 RBI. A very nice start, indeed.

According to ESPN, he is on pace for 17 HRs, 86 runs, 72 RBI and 13 stolen bases, but I think that projection undersells the improvements he has made and the plate over the last month or so. It also assumes he will hit like he did in April and May in the second half, which, while possible, probably has a low percentage of happening.

Hosmer will have to start hitting more fly balls if he wants to continue hitting for power like he has in June. His fly ball rate this season is a measly 21.8%, down from 27.9% last season. His monthly batted ball splits, courtesy of FanGraphs, indicate that he is hitting more balls in the air in June and July, so there is reason for optimism for him to continue to hit for power. His HR/FB% is up from 11.3% in 2012 to 15.5% this season, so more of his fly balls are leaving the park this season.

A second half that looks more like his June performance, rather than his April/May performance will put Hosmer back into my top 10 fantasy first baseman for 2014. But there are plenty of games left, so I will take another look at him toward the end of the season. I think he can end the season with 20-23 HRs, 90+ runs, 85-90 RBI and 15+ stolen bases.

For more on Eric Hosmer and the rest of the Kansas City Royals, make sure you check out Royals Review, SB Nation's Royals fan site.

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