Even the pessimists among us expected more from Eric Hosmer this year. While I think there were some who thought Mike Moustakas might end up about where he is, we were all at least hoping for more. The Royals simply didn't have the starting pitching to contend in 2012, but better years from Hosmer and Moustakas would have made things more interesting.
Better years from those two are almost certainly imperative if The Process is ever going to take a big step forward.
Better than Hosmer's .239./314/.373, OPS+ 88, wOBA .306, fWAR -0.4
Better than Moustakas' .249/.301/.428, OPS+ 97, wOBA .312, fWAR 3.6
To be honest, 3.6 fWAR out of Moose is hard to complain about, but a pretty fair chunk of that value comes from his much better than expected defense. Still, all the value aside, Kansas City needs more than a .301 on-base percentage from their third baseman and, frankly, more than a .428 slugging as well.
Baseball lore is woven full of the dreaded sophmore slump. The most recent notable one from a player who went on to become great was Carlos Beltran, who went from Rookie of the Year to Omaha in less than half a season and came back in season three as the real Carlos Beltran.
In fact, comparing the first two years of Beltran and Hosmer is a little eerie. Of course, if you a believer in small sample sizes, it is also very encouraging.
Beltran Rookie: .293/.337./454 - Hosmer Rooke: .293/.334/.465
Beltran Soph: .247/.309/.366 - Hosmer Soph: .239/.314/.373
What about other players and the dreaded sophomore slump?
A quick Baseball Reference search finds 43 players since 1980 who had enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title AND hit less than .250. As you might expect, there are a lot of middle infielders on the list from the very notable (Lou Whitaker, Ozzie Guillen, Jimmy Rollins) to the okay (Dick Schofield, Spike Owen, Shawon Dunston) to the forgettable (Curt Wilkerson, Mike Caruso, Billy Ripken).
Adam Dunn is on the list, but what list that starts with having a less than .250 batting average would he not be on? He also had an on-base percentage of .400 in his second major league season. Jose Canseco is there, too, but how do you factor in what Jose did and has done into any sort of comparative equation? Ditto for Sammy Sosa.
There are, however, a number of guys who went onto have good and even very good careers after having a pretty rough sophomore season at a young age.
Benito Santiago won the rookie of the year in 1987 and plummeted to .248/.282/.362 during his age 23 season, but rebounded to have a good career (at least until he got to KC). Gary Gaetti is on the list. So is Dean Palmer. Both of those guys had poor rookie seasons as well.
Chili Davis followed up a pretty bad second sason with a third season OPS+ of 148. Derek Lee was awful in his second full season, but his third year featured an OPS+ of 124.
Of course, for every Chili Davis there is a Peter Bergeron. For every Derek Lee, there is a John Cangelosi.
There seems to be an almost universal opinion that Eric Hosmer will rebound from 2012, while most probably are of the opinion that Moustakas will at least hit with more power (20 homers as rookie is not shabby, by the way). I would be squarely in both camps.
For the sake of The Process and our own personal sanity, both players need to have bounce back years in 2013. Now, about that pitching....