Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer had an outstanding rookie season in 2011, hitting .293 with 19 home runs, 78 RBI and 11 stolen bases over 563 plate appearances. Fantasy baseball owners certainly had high expectations for him entering 2012, his first full season in the big leagues, but Hosmer never really recovered from a slow start (.188 batting average in April) and wound up hitting just .232 with 14 home runs, 60 RBI and 16 stolen bases over 598 plate appearances.
Hosmer was also bothered by a tear in the rotator cuff in his right shoulder late in the season, which led to him being shut down with a few games left. The injury may explain his poor finish to the season, as he hit just .179 with two home runs, eight RBI and a .295 slugging percentage over his final 25 games. Putting his bad start to the season together with that finish, Hosmer had a slash-line (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) of .184/.273/.344 with seven home runs and 21 RBI over 186 total plate appearances. Simply put, it would be hard for any player to overcome that level of dismal production over nearly one-third of their season.
Hosmer clearly had a big sophomore slump last season, but can fantasy owners expect a rebound in 2013? Let’s take a closer look at his chances.
A look at Hosmer’s peripheral statistics sheds some light on his struggles last season. As could be expected he struck out more, both in terms of raw data (95 times in 2012, 82 in 2011) and a percentage of his plate appearances (15.9 percent last season, 14.6 percent in 2011). He also hit more more ground balls (53.6 percent in 2012, 49.7 percent in 2011), fewer fly balls (27.9 percent last season, 31.7 percent in 2011) and had a significant drop in BABIP (.258, down from .318 in 2011). So it’s easy to see why Hosmer had such a down season, and something as simple as better luck should boost his production in 2013.
Hosmer had just 29 home runs over 1,153 minor league plate appearances, hitting 20 in 2010 over two levels, so he does not necessarily project to be a prestigious power hitter. But he has generally drawn a fair amount of walks, and last season’s 9.5 percent walk rate represented a return to that trend after having just a 6.1 percent walk rate during his time with the Royals in 2011.
Fantasy owners that spent a high pick on Hosmer last year are likely to avoid him all together, but that means he has a chance to be a potential draft day value this year. The 23-year-old still has plenty of upside potential for those in keeper leagues, and owners in deep mixed leagues that choose to wait on a first baseman can do a lot worse.
Hosmer can be a contributor in at least four of the five standard fantasy categories, and if the Royals’ lineup shows improvement he could score a lot more runs.
Without further ado, here is my projection for Hosmer in 2013:
Batting Average- .285
Home Runs- 19
Stolen Bases- 15
Runs Scored- 75
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.