Bats: L | Age: 24 | Team: Royals | Position: 1B | Player Rater Position Values: ESPN (8), NFBC (6)
Hosmer’s 2013 season was a tale of two halves. For the first two months of the season, he only had one home run, a .333 slugging percentage and a 0.072 ISO (isolated power). In terms of hit location, he was hitting the ball on the ground and to left field 58 percent and 24 percent of the time respectively.
From June on, he went on to hit .318/.367/.494 with 16 home runs, .494 SLUG and .176 ISO. What was most surprising he achieved these numbers while still hitting a lot of ground balls (49.5 percent), which is really high for a power hitter.
In the last two seasons, there were 65 players with 400+ plate appearances with a ground ball rate 49.5 percent or higher. Of those players, only one player hit more than 20 home runs (22 from Kendrys Morales). On average the 65 players had an average of 8.5 home runs, which makes me question how high Hosmer’s power potential could be. He has had a propensity for hitting ground balls his entire career: 51.5 percent and 45.7 percent in 2012 and 2011 respectively.
Some fantasy analysts have cited Eric Hosmer’s improvement was due to hitting more balls to right field and less to left field. However, the balls hit to right field only increased three percentage points (from 28 percent to 31.2 percent) and balls hit to left field were essentially the same (23.3 percent). The spray charts below show where all of hits landed in 2013. It’s difficult to see any major change in hit location, which adds more suspicion the .345 BABIP (from June on) is unsustainable. Image courtesy of TruMedia Networks.
There was no bigger proponent of Eric Hosmer last year than me, but his ground ball has historically been too high for me to believe he’ll continue take another step forward in the power department. That said, I wouldn’t at all be surprised if he does take that step forward because the scouting reports I’ve read suggest he’ll eventually become a monster offensive player. I don’t want to invest a fifth, sixth round pick on a player at a premium offensives position whose biggest asset could be batting average with only a 15-22 home run projection.