Eric Hosmer has been a huge disappointment this season with a 0.174/0.243/0.316 slash line. Most of his problems stem from a 0.169 BABIP. I am going to look to see if there are any under lying problems for the drop and any possible reasons for optimism.
As I stated previously, Eric has a BABIP of 0.169. It is the lowest value of all hitters with at least 150 PA. In 2011, he was 50th out of 145 qualified hitters with a 0.314 BABIP.
A look at his batted ball data shows that he is hitting the ball similar in 2012 compared to 2011:
Batted ball, 2011 Value, 2012 Value
Line Drive: 19%, 17%
Ground Ball: 50%, 52%
Fly Ball: 32%, 31%
There is not much of a change between the two seasons. Looking a little deeper, here are his BABIP values on the 3 batted ball types:
His fly ball BABIP is almost the same, but his ground ball and line drive BABIPs are way down. Having watched a good portion of the Royals games this year, the defensive shift is taking away quite a few hits from him. The main place the shift is taking away hits is the center part of the field as seen here:
There is some debate on the exact amount that a shift affects a hitter, but it is having some effect on Hosmer’s BABIP. How much is just not for certain.
The low average has limited the times Hosmer is getting on base which in turn has limited his stolen base chances. In 2011, he had 11 SBs or 7.9% of the time he was on 1B. In 2012, he has only 1 SB so far, or 3.3% of the time he has been on 1B. Hosmer looked to have the potential to have double digit steals at the beginning of the season. Now it looks like he may be lucky to get half a dozen.
In other bad news, he is seeing a small drop in power. He has 5 HRs this season in 173 PAs. Those numbers work out to be 1 HR every 35 PAs. Last season, he hit one every 30 PAs. This lack of power can also be seen in a drop in his ISO from 0.172 to 0.139.
There is a bit of good news. His plate discipline has improved. His walk rate has gone up from 6% to 9%. His strike out rate has dropped from 15% to 12%. The improvements are just not enough to over come the huge drop in BABIP.
While Hosmer’s plate discipline has improved from 2011 to 2012, it is not large enough to offset the declines in BABIP and power. The drop in power is not horrible. The decline is BABIP is completely destroying any of his fantasy values. Even though shifts are working against him by limiting the ground balls and line drives that leave the infield, some amount of regression should be expected with his BABIP. How much and when it will happen is anyone’s guess.