Heading into 2012, Eric Hosmer looked like a rising star who would improve upon his strong 2011 numbers. By mid-season some owners were questioning whether he was even worth owning. So what should we expect for 2013? I’m thinking he can rebound to his former self and be a nice value in 2013.
Hosmer burned owners in part because he was probably drafted highly and we kept waiting for him to turn things around (which he never really did). It’s one thing to wait on a guy through a rough patch and then see him start to pull it together. It’s another to watch him burn a hole in your roster over the course of an entire season and never figure it out. It was even harder to trade him since his stock got so low. I’m hoping 2012 leaves a bad taste in some owners’ mouths and drives the price down on a nice young player who still has a lot of potential.
Over the course of 128 games in 2011 Hosmer hit 19 homers, stole 11 bases, and hit .293. It was a solid year across the board and the future looked really bright. But in 152 games last year, he only managed 14 homers and a very hard to swallow .232 batting average. Naturally, one of the first things we can point to is his low .255 BABIP compared to .314 in 2011, but there is more to the story than just the number.
Young players like Hosmer have to adjust to big league pitching, but they also have to adjust to the adjustments that teams then make to them. In 2012 Hosmer battled defensive shifts and probably began to press a little, which may have been a factor in his low average and power numbers. If fantasy owners like us were feeling antsy about his performance, imagine the frustration for him as a young ballplayer.
A shoulder injury that sidelined him in September may have contributed to his lack of power in 2012 as well. I don’t believe players are always truthful about the extent of their injuries even with their own teams and it is hard to tell exactly how long Hosmer was dealing with a shoulder injury last year. Ike Davis, for example, didn’t really admit until this spring that the Valley Fever and ankle were bothering him, and we all know what the first half of his 2012 looked like.
There is a positive to take from Hosmer’s 2012. Despite his drop in average, his BB% rose from 6% to 9.4%. If he can continue to be disciplined at the plate and make adjustments against defensive shifts, his batting average should climb back up to where it was expected to be after 2011. Similarly, if his shoulder is 100%, it would be easy to see the power returning.
The organization still has a lot of confidence in his bat as well. He is spending some time working on his game in right field this spring, which will allow Billy Butler to play first base during interleague play at NL parks and keep Hosmer’s bat in the lineup. I like Hosmer to reach the 20-homerun mark to go along with double digit steals and a healthy batting average. All very nice considering what it will cost you to get him now.