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Eric Hosmer was widely billed as one of the "best of the rest" options in the 2012 first base class, but the expected batting average output that earned him that designation hasn't caught up to his five homers yet.
Holding a .180 clip on the year, he's in an 0-for-18 rut after a six-game hitting streak showed his signs of life. Against southpaws, the lefty stick has gone 3-for-22 with one RBI. This split was his weakness last year, as well (.237-1-13 in 152 at-bats).
He isn't taking hurlers by surprise anymore. How much does his bump in walk rate (10.1 percent up from 6.0 percent in his debut) note maturing plate discipline, and how much of it displays an increasing number of theoretically intentional free passes?
He's seeing fewer pitches on the black and a healthier dose of changeups. Hos hasn't had as much success on connecting with pitches in the PITCHf/x strike zone, so he's probably a little off-balance thanks to off-speeders.
Dropping Hosmer to the cleanup role April 21 seemed to work at first; he left the yard thrice in a five-game span. But now that Jeff Francoeur, who only last year curtailed his hacking ways, is hitting behind him instead of the steadier Billy Butler, would it be shocking if Hosmer saw even more caution from pitchers?
On the bright side of his free-pass increase, he's avoiding more bad pitches than he did last season; restraint from creating strikes bodes well for a turnaround. In his current 0-fer, he has just one punchout.
Plus, his in-play batting average is .155. Talk about positive regression probability, even with his slight drop-off in liners and contact frequency.
For all the fears about Hosmer's thin lineup help, issues against left-handers, and the backfiring of his rising status in the eyes of opponents, his plate awareness should eventually produce better numbers. There's too much power and spray in his lumber to think his clunker will extend into late summer.
Ask his owner what it'll take to acquire him.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum competes in Tout Wars and LABR and has won several industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, hear him every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore. On Thursdays, he visits 106.1 FM WMTI in New Orleans and Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, where he often crashes other shows, as well.
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