by John Viril—
At long last, Kansas City 1st baseman Eric Hosmer is driving the ball. After a lost season in 2012, and a rough beginning to 2013, Hosmer is finally looking like the player who showed such promise as a rookie in 2011 at age 21.
I’m confident that new hitting coach George Brett had a lot to do with the transformation. Brett became hitting coach on May 30. Eric Hosmer hit for an anemic .643 OPS in April, .659 in May and a healthy .843 so far in June. Hosmer’s progress is due to him driving the ball this month rather than slapping it into the opposite field as he had done so often under the hitting coach tandem of Jack Maloof and Andre David.
Kansas City Star reporter Bob Dutton wrote about how Hosmer was having a problem being “late” with his swing. Brett addressed the problem by having Hosmer move his hands farther back so he doesn’t have to move them so far to “cock” them before his swing. The other thing Brett has done is work with hitters to release their top hand as they follow through with their swing, which helps hitters pull the ball. The top hand release was something that the late Charlie Lau used to emphasize with his hitters during the franchise’s glory days.
The improvement has been immediate. Eric Hosmer has 7 doubles and 2 HRs in 85 ABs since Brett took over has hitting coach. compared to 7 doubles, 1 triple, and 1 HR in 161 ABs before Brett arrived. Overall, Hosmer is now up to a 96 wRC+ for the season, which is almost league average. That’s not what you want from a 1st Baseman, but it’s a heck of a lot better than hitting like a middle infielder—which is what Hosmer did for two months.
The “George Brett Effect” is obvious from Hosmer’s spray charts.
The month before Brett:
spray charts from texasleaguers.com
Hosmer’s performance Friday night was particularly encouraging. Lost amid a miserable 9-1 drubbing by the Chicago White Sox, Hosmer went 2-4 with a double and a home run. The home run was ample demonstration of his progress. Before, pitchers were eating up Hosmer with the inside pitch. Last night, he was able to turn on the ball and drive it over right-center field wall.
While we can’t say that Eric Hosmer is completely “fixed”, his .316/.369/.474 line in June looks a lot more like the 21-year-old rookie who seemed ready to become a star.