There have been lots of ups and downs in Eric Hosmer’s first major league season, but at 21 years old he might be the first Royals prospect in more than a decade to come up and do exactly what fans expected from him. Hosmer entered Wednesday’s contest vs. the Twins hitting .284/.331/.458 with 17 homers on the season. His defense doesn’t check out as friendly as you would expect according to FanGraphs, however if you watch the Royals enough you don’t need graphs or stats to tell you how good of a glove Hosmer has.
According to FanGraphs, Hosmer’s WAR this season is now at 1.o. For comparison, Jeff Francouer has a WAR of 2.3. I’ve seen a few tweets and intriguing arguments that belittle the encouraging play of Hosmer this season. And while I think WAR is a great statistic, I think it does a terribly ineffective job at measuring a young, developing player’s value. For all that WAR does, it doesn’t take into consideration a player’s age and his number’s relative to that age. Lucky for us, we have humans that can do that.
The best article that I have read to date on Eric Hosmer’s season comes from the Kansas City Star’s Rustin Dodd. He saved me a ton of work and did the research that I had planned to do when I began this article. Dodd makes a compelling case using a few of Hosmer’s standard statistics to suggest that Hosmer is not only having a good rookie season, but rather a historically good rookie season if he keeps up the pace.
A few highlights from the article include the finding that if Hosmer maintains his current OBP of .331 and adds three more home runs and one more double, then he would become the 19th rookie in history to accomplish the feat of 20 homers and 25 doubles while batting at least .280/.330.
To sweeten the significance of that potential accomplishment, the previous two players to do that were Ryan Braun in 2007 and Albert Pujols in 2001. Braun, however, hit .324/.370 with 34 homers and 26 doubles in 113 games, but was also 23. And Pujols batted .329/.403 with 37 homers and 47 doubles in 161 games and his birth certificate says he was the same age as Hosmer—make of that what you will—but either way he’s Albert Freaking Pujols, so comparisons to him aren’t the least bit practical.
With 12 games left in the Royals’ season it’s well within the realm of possibility for Hosmer to reach the 20 home-run plateau, which is a heck of an accomplishment for any rookie. But the more important factor to take into consideration is the ballpark in which he plays. Kauffman Stadium isn’t exactly conducive to launching home runs and Hosmer hasn’t broken that stigma, with only two of his 17 coming at home. Instead he has increased his BB (18), OBP (.342) and BABIP (.345) by using the spacious dimensions of Kauffman to his advantage.
This is one of the many “it” factors of Hosmer as a hitter. He has the potential to be a consistent 30-plus home run hitter, but possesses the plate discipline and swing to also hit .300. Hosmer isn’t a bomber trying to develop as a hitter, but rather a pure hitter that is developing more power right before our eyes. It is a fun development to watch and something we shouldn’t take for granted. After all, he is the first rookie hitter to come up and perform right away since Carlos Beltran. (Please don’t mention Angel Berroa, as I’m trying to block that disappointment further and further out of my memory.)
Lastly, a note from the Kings of Kauffman self-promotion department. My colleague, Gage Matthews did an extensive in-depth analysis of Hosmer’s Rookie of the Year chances and you can and should check it out here.