We live in a world that asks so many questions, especially in the sports world. What if the Seahawks ran the ball? What if Charlotte never traded Kobe? What if Bonds never used PEDs? What if Alex Gordon was sent home? But the important thing here is the phrase "what if."
One of the bigger news stories surrounding the Royals and Major League Baseball is the extension talks with all star first baseman Eric Hosmer. The news was Hosmer was supposedly seeking a 10 year deal. Whether that is true or not, Eric Hosmer is definitely not worth a 10 year deal. Almost nobody is. I actually wrote up on what Hosmer was worth in this piece. He really won't even get close to that deal. At best, he will probably get Will Myers money at roughly 6/$80 million, which still might even be an overpay. If you would've gone back to his rookie season, many people would of said he would have a goo chance to maybe exceed that type of money. But he has never lived up to his true potential. Is there is one big reason why.
The recent knock on why Eric Hosmer isn't putting up better numbers is because he just hits too many dang ground balls. Last year, he was second in the majors, only behind Howie Kendrick, with a GB% of 58.9%, which is about 15% above league average. So recently, I thought of a hypothetical to myself. What if Eric Hosmer hit less ground balls. How much better would he be? I then did some research.
The first thing I did was look up the league average for GB%, FB%, and LD%. I found that on balls in play, grounders were hit 44% of the time, fly balls 35%, line drives 21%. My goal was to figure out what type of hitter would Eric Hosmer look like if hit ground balls at 44% (league average).
The second thing I looked at is some notable hitters that hit ground balls close to league average. The most notable I found was Josh Donaldson. Interestingly enough, not that it means anything, but Eric Hosmer and him had a very similar exit velocity.
So I then went back and multiplied Eric Hosmer's balls in play by the league average percentages. I found that last year, he would of hit 216 grounders, 172 fly balls, and 103 line drives. The next thing I did was look at what Hosmer hit on each type of batted ball.
- On grounders, Hosmer had a .247 batting average
- On fly balls, Hosmer had a nice .313 batting average
- On line drives, Hosmer had a commonly high .711 batting average
After that string of research, I felt pretty confident that Hosmer could get hits on fly balls at an above average rate. Subsequently, I multiplied his averages on certain batted balls by the certain amount of batted balls Hosmer would hit on a league basis. What I got was encouraging.
- He would have 53 grounders go through for hits
- He would have 54 fly balls drop for hits
- He would have 73 line drives fall for hits
But now what is the big deal? We have seen Eric Hosmer hit close to .300 multiple times. Yes, but batting average is only one change that would be made in Eric Hosmer's production if he hit less ground balls. The bigger one would be having balls clear the fence.
Like I said, if Hosmer hit fly balls at an average pace, he would hit 172. Last year, Hosmer hit 21.4% of fly balls for a home run, a high pace. But last year, Hosmer did rank in the top fourth of the MLB in average home run distance, fly ball exit velocity, and barrel percentage. There is a chance the HR/FB rate could be sustained. Anyway, I found with that rate, Hosmer with hit about 37 home runs. Thirty-seven. In Kauffman Stadium. A number that would probably surely go up in other ballparks.
So, after putting all of this numbers together, here is what Hosmer's numbers would transform into based off of last years numbers
- Batting average would raise from .266 to .298
- Home runs would raise 25 to 37 (!)
- OBP would raise from .328 to .357
- SLG% would raise from .433 to .512
- ISO would raise from .167 to .214
- Total OPS would raise from .761 to .869
The only thing that remains unclear was his doubles and triples. I would imagine those would've raised also.
Obviously, what we can take away from this Hosmer could unlock some true potential the more he cuts down on the ground balls. And it isn't the easiest problem to fix, as he is reaching his age 27 season and his seventh year in the majors. His GB% has been rose 8% since he's reached the majors, which is concerning. Another way you could look into this is as a buy low. Because... if Hosmer did find a way to cut down on his ground balls this offseason, he almost surely will not be wearing blue and white next year.