A comment in one of the other threads challenged me to give some thought as to whether Hosmer was really as disappointing as he seemed to be last year. Certainly, he did nothing close to "rake," which, based on the hype, we expected him to do. However, maybe due to unfounded optimism, but I wanted to think that Hosmer's season was not the bust it seemed to be. Admittedly, he was horrible in Wilmington, but I don't think that was entirely his fault. First, the decision to bring him up to Wilmington was incredibly misguided (I'd like to think it was all part of Dayton's Lost Summer, but probably not)--he simply was not ready. Couple that the fact that he only played less than 30 games with both the untreated astigmatism and, later, an apparent hand injury of some kind, and I think Wilmington was an aberration. Thus, I think we should only look at his time in Burlington to get a real sense of what he did last year
I also think part of the problem is that we tend to compare Hosmer to the college players we could have had, which is unfair to him. Even as an "older" HS guy (19 all last season), he was still a high school draftee, and should be compared not with Smoak or Gordon Beckham, but with the other H.S. bats. So, I picked some offensive stats to compare him to the other first round HS position player draftees to see how he faired with the most comparable players developmentally. I picked something really old school (BB/K), kinda old school (isolated power) and stats I barely understand (wOBA--weighted on base percentage, and wRC+, which is supposed to park (and league?) adjust wOBA) to compare. To be fair, I may be cherry picking these stats, and they do tend to lean on OBP more than other things. With that said, here's the comparisons:
Hosmer (3) at class A (327 PA): wOBA=.340, 44/68 BB/K, wRC+=108, ISO=.129
Tim Beckham (1) at class A (537 PA): wOBA=.327 (with a far better BABIP, showing more luck), 34/116, wRC+=103, ISO=.114
Kyle Skipworth (6) at class A (286 PA): wOBA=.278, 18/91, wRC+=71, ISO .140
Aaron Hicks (14) at class A (297 PA): wOBA=.337, 40/55, wRC+=106, ISO=.131
Brett Lawrie (16) at class A (423): wOBA=.362, 41/70, wRC+=122, ISO=.180
Anthony Hewitt (24) at short-season A (NYP league): wOBA=.294, 9/77, wRC+84, ISO=.172
In comparison, I think Hosmer comes out looking as good as almost everyone else at his level. Only one player completely outplayed him--Lawrie, who was promoted to AA by the end of the year and held his own for the couple of weeks he was there. Other than that, Hosmer was even with or better than all of the rest. Hewitt's ISO was quite a bit better, but it was in a less competitive league. Hosmer's ability to take a walk is promising--I fully believe that plate discipline is not a learnable skill. I also believe that power does take some time to develop in a high school draftee. Add to that that every other player on the list (except Lawrie, who is looking like a stud) got at least a month of playing time in 2008, and Hosmer acquits himself against similar competition. His closest offensive comp of that group last year was the Twins' Hicks. Hicks, who also disappointed last year, is still the #1 Twins prospect according to, well, everybody (Sickels, Hardball Times, Baseball America, FanGraphs).
Yes, last year was a disappointment, but I don't think it was at bad as it seemed. Given his plate discipline, his eye surgery, and the fact that he now has a season of pro ball under his belt, I don't think there's any compelling reason to think of Hosmer as a bust. The power has to come along a bit this year, but he's still young enough that it can.
Now, if the organization can just keep from screwing him up anymore...