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What We Can Learn from Eric Hosmer’s Resurgence?

On May 30, the Kansas City Royals “re-assigned” hitting coaches Jack Maloof and Andre David to the minor leagues, and assigned that George Brett and Pedro Grifol would serve as hitting coaches.  While the move was strange, it was not unwarranted; the Royals’ young hitters were struggling mightily, with Eric Hosmer hitting 261/321/335, and Mike Moustakas was hitting 184/254/309.

The work of Brett and Grifo, who are possibly the biggest odd couple to serve as co-anythings, with Brett one of the greatest hitters of all time and Grifol a career 226/276/323 hitter in 2349 career plate appearances across nine minor league seasons. Their impact on Hosmer and Moustakas has been undeniable, with Hosmer hitting 320/362/514 and Moustakas hitting 276/325/407 since the change.  While Brett stepped down as co-hitting coach in late July, Grifol has remained as the team’s hitting coach.

The spectacular turnaround of Eric Hosmer’s season has been a major boon to the Royals and fantasy owners everywhere.  Prior to the change, Hosmer owners were wondering if it was time to sell low and cut their losses, or go down with U.S.S. Hosmer.  Now owners are trying to identify the signs that would indicate a surge is about to come to try to buy low on the next breakout post hype prospect.

  1. Watch out for the spike (or drop) in BABIP.  In his rookie season, Eric Hosmer’s BABIP was .314, while it dropped to .255 in 2012.  Prior to the hitting coach change, his BABIP was .306.  In the period since the hitting coach change, Hosmer’s BABIP has been .332.  While this isn’t a huge increase, it means that, over the course of 500 balls in play, Hosmer would get 166 hits as opposed to 153.  Those 13 hits, an average of one every other week, could be a huge difference to a team.
  2. ISO Power means a lot. Hosmer’s ISO power has increased from .074 to .196 – a .122 increase.  The extent of the benefit depends on the league, but everyone likes more home runs from their hitters.  When Brett and Grifol became hitting coaches, Hosmer had one home run; he has hit 14 since.
  3. Watch out for injuries.  During spring training, Hosmer experienced tightness in his quad, which was also reported in mid-April.  Was Hosmer more hurt than was easily observed?  Did he make a subconscious change in his swing to lessen the impact on his quad?  We will never know, but keeping up with small, nagging injuries can help any owner gain an edge.
  4. Don’t expect too much from prospects immediately upon promotion.  Mike Trout hit 220/281/390 in 2011, Mike Schmidt hit 206/325/294 in his first full season, and Chase Utley hit 257/313/436 over his first two partial seasons.  Eric Hosmer won’t turn 24 until October – he’s nearly a full year younger than Mike Olt.
  5. Just because someone hasn’t struggled yet doesn’t mean they won’t struggle when they won’t struggle when they reach the majors.  The biggest jump in talent is from AAA (or AA) to the majors, and the difference between pitching in AAA and Justin Verlander is bigger than the largest national park in America.

Until next time, you can follow me @hypeprospect.

Sources:

Baseball-Reference.com

Fangraphs.com

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M Foreman

M Foreman

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