KFFL answers important fantasy baseball questions about each Major League Baseball team as spring training approaches. What must fantasy baseball players know about the Kansas City Royals?
If Eric Hosmer is so good, then what went wrong?
Shields: KC's best pitching bet
What, a .232 batting average and 14 ding dongs aren't what you expected?
The Royals may have asked too much of him by slotting him third or fourth in the order to open the season, but that's where he'd hit for most of 2011. In pivotal spots like those, some players tend to press if they're struggling, and his inexperience would've exacerbated the issue. After the break, Hosmer felt he'd let his swing become long because he'd become overly aggressive in an attempt to make up for his slow start.
But such demands are highly unlikely to be the sole cause, if even the main one, of the left-handed batter's disappointing showing. In spring exhibition action, Hosmer gave the Royals a scare when in the field he dove for a ball and landed awkwardly on his right shoulder. After an evaluation, everything seemed to check out, and he enjoyed a fantastic spring. In late September, though, he left a contest because he experienced discomfort in that shoulder. An MRI later confirmed that he had a strain in his rotator cuff.
Had Hosmer's ST injury been so slight that it didn't register as anything of concern, initially? Had it worsened, very slowly, throughout the campaign, only to culminate in the slight tear that finally alerted him of its seriousness? Did the first baseman take each of his swings in 2012 with a tiny puncture in the wall of his faculties? Unlikely. But it begs inquiry about their relation. Thankfully, the ailment didn't require surgery, and he'll be healthy when camp begins.
Hosmer is almost assuredly too good to struggle in that manner forever, and there may be some physical explanation for his downturn. But he's not a base-stealer of the order his 2012 theft total (16) suggests; his aggressiveness probably came about because of his desire to contribute. And he still has to learn to deal with adversity and adjust to it against the best competition available.
It's easy to forecast a bounce-back campaign for KC and the sunshine man at the cold corner. But because it's easy, others will be expecting it, too. He has great ability but is also a first baseman; his upside in the short term may not allow his numbers to stand out. He warrants a solid bid, but don't break the bank just because Hosmer, 24, should be better than he was in 2012.
After James Shields, can you trust any of the Royals' other rotation options?
About Nicholas Minnix
Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.
The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.
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