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Eric Hosmer: Is He a Top 10 First Baseman in 2012?

The Kansas City Royals called up Eric Hosmer, their 21 year old first base prospect back on May 6th of this season, and in his first major league game he went 0-2 with 2 walks and 2 strikeouts. He was called up after he tore up AAA hitting .439-.525-.582 with 3 HRs, 15 RBI, 21 runs and 3 stolen bases in just under 100 at bats. In 2010, Hosmer hit a combined .338-.406-.571 with 20 HRs, 86 RBI, 87 runs, 14 SBs, and an excellent 66-59 K/BB rate in High A and AA. Much was expected from Hosmer once he was called up to the big leagues, as some compared him to 2010 MVP Joey Votto. The thinking was he would get his feet wet this year, go through his ups and downs in his rookie year, and then eventually become a perennial all-star after a few years in the big leagues.

But Hosmer had other plans.

As of September 8th, Hosmer is hitting better than expected in my opinion. He has a triple slash line of .285-.334-.457 with 16 HRs, 67 RBI, 55 runs, 10 SBs and a 71-34 K/BB rate in 449 at bats in his first taste of the big leagues. Hosmer owns a .306 BABIP and has an 0.18/0.50/0.32 LD/GB/FB batted ball slash line, so he has the time to improve upon the 50% ground ball rate.

More on Hosmer after the jump:

Projecting Hosmer's stats over a full 162 game schedule, he would hit 23 HRs, score 80 runs, and drive in 98 runs. But I think he can do better than that as his HR/FB% sits at 13.1% on a very low fly ball rate of 32% right now, so if he can maintain his HR/FB rate and increase the number of fly balls he hits to around 40%, he could approach 30+ HRs in 2012.

Hosmer also owns solid plate discipline as evidenced by his 14.5% strikeout rate, which is very low for a power hitter. He is walking at just a 7% rate right now, but once he has his rookie season under his belt, and hits for more power, he should become more selective at the plate resulting in more walks.

There are probably 10 first baseman who will hit 30 or more home runs in 2011 including Albert Pujols, Mark Teixeira, Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard, Paul Konerko, Joey Votto, Michael Morse, Carlos Pena, Miguel Cabrera and Mark Trumbo. Going into 2012, I cannot see Hosmer getting picked before Pujols, Teixeira, Fielder, Howard, Konerko, Votto or Cabrera, so he very well could be a top 7 or 8 first baseman heading into 2012 fantasy drafts.

I see him hitting around .290 and approach 30 HRs while driving in around 90-100 runs in 2012. Too optimistic? What do Fake Teamers think?