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Thursday, March 07, 2013

Schoenfield: Will Eric Hosmer turn into a great player?

After he blew apart my “DiMythio’s Sphinct-O-Matic Nine” team? Why should I care now…

For the first list, I looked at players since 1969 who had at least 1,000 plate appearances through their age-22 season. The players clustered from a 97 OPS+ to 103 include Roberto Alomar, Lou Whitaker, Ruben Sierra, Chet Lemon, Adrian Beltre and Buddy Bell. Good players, although they all played key defensive positions. They also included Rick Manning, Wil Cordero and Chris Speier. Washington was actually at 106—exactly where his career mark ended up. George Brett was also at 106. Brett won a batting title at 23 and then started hitting for power at 24. Hosmer probably won’t turn into George Brett, but George Brett didn’t look like George Brett at 22, either.

For the second list, I looked at all 22-year-olds since 1969 who had 500 plate appearances. There are 146 of them; Hosmer’s OPS+ of 82 ranks 124th, right below Jerry Remy (and right above Jose Reyes). Only two of the players below or right above Hosmer were first basemen, one being Daric Barton, who hit .226 for the A’s in 2008. Most of the players are middle infielders, catchers or center fielders.

There are a few interesting names to point out, however:

  - Ryne Sandberg, 1982 Cubs (90 OPS+): Sandberg hit .271/.312/.372 as a rookie third basemen. He’s obviously a different type of player than Hosmer—moved to second base, more speed—but the point is Sandberg wasn’t all that great as a 22-year-old. His power developed at 24, and he turned into a Hall of Famer.
  - Robin Ventura, 1990 White Sox (83 OPS+): This was Ventura’s rookie year, so he didn’t have the year of major league experience like Hosmer did; he hit a pedestrian .249/.324/.318. His walk rate was similar to Hosmer’s, and neither struck out much. (Hosmer struck out more but plays in an era with more strikeouts.) The next year Ventura hit .284/.367/.442 and increased his home runs from five to 23.
  - Dale Murphy, 1978 Braves (80 OPS+): The other first baseman, Murphy showed power (22 home runs), but hit just .224 and led the NL in strikeouts. Similar build to Hosmer—tall and lean—although Murphy was athletic enough to eventually move to center field and become a two-time MVP. (Hosmer did steal 16 bases in 17 attempts, so it’s not like he’s Prince Fielder out there.)
  - Larry Parrish, 1976 Expos (80 OPS+): Like Hosmer, Parrish played pretty well as a 21-year-old and then regressed at 22. He had a string of productive years starting at age 24.

One other guy worth mentioning is Johnny Damon, who posted a 73 OPS+ at 22 after playing better at 21. After hitting 17 home runs his first three seasons, he hit 18 at 24. But, again, he’s a much different type of player.

Repoz Posted: March 07, 2013 at 07:09 AM | 8 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: royals, sabermetrics

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   1. bobm Posted: March 07, 2013 at 08:16 AM (#4382657)
Spanning Multiple Seasons or entire Careers, From 1969 to 2012, Younger than 22, Played 50% of games at 1B, 3B, LF or RF, (requiring At least 1000 plate appearances), sorted by greatest Adjusted OPS+

Rk                Player OPS+   PA From   To   Age     Pos      Tm
1          Albert Pujols  154 1351 2001 2002 21-22 7/539D6     STL
2      Giancarlo Stanton  140 1498 2010 2012 20-22   *9/D8 FLA-MIA
3         Miguel Cabrera  133 1716 2003 2005 20-22  *79/5D     FLA
4           Eddie Murray  131 1356 1977 1978 21-22  *3D/75     BAL
5      Darryl Strawberry  130 1075 1983 1984 21-22    *9/8     NYM
6             Bob Horner  129 1369 1978 1980 20-22    *5/3     ATL
7       Rickey Henderson  128 1613 1979 1981 20-22  *7/8D9     OAK
8          Richie Hebner  125 1007 1969 1970 21-22    *5/3     PIT
9             Carlos May  125 1077 1969 1970 21-22   *7/93     CHW
10            Jack Clark  124 1259 1975 1978 19-22  *9/875     SFG
11         Greg Luzinski  124 1412 1970 1973 19-22   *7/39     PHI
12         Jason Heyward  116 1730 2010 2012 20-22    *9/8     ATL
13            Greg Gross  116 1277 1973 1975 20-22   *97/8     HOU
14         Tom Brunansky  115 1197 1981 1983 20-22  *9/87D CAL-MIN
15          Jose Canseco  114 1473 1985 1987 20-22  *7/9D8     OAK
16        Jason Thompson  114 1154 1976 1977 21-22      *3     DET
17       Freddie Freeman  113 1279 2010 2012 20-22      *3     ATL
18        Ryan Zimmerman  113 1466 2005 2007 20-22   *5/6D     WSN
19          Justin Upton  111 1728 2007 2010 19-22    *9/D     ARI
20          Clint Hurdle  111 1151 1977 1980 19-22 *9/73D5     KCR
21            Tim Raines  110 1121 1979 1982 19-22    *7/4     MON
22       Carney Lansford  110 1212 1978 1979 21-22   *5/6D     CAL
23           Eric Chavez  109 1019 1998 2000 20-22   *5/6D     OAK
24         Sixto Lezcano  108 1130 1974 1976 20-22  *9/78D     MIL
25   Claudell Washington  106 1956 1974 1977 19-22   798/D OAK-TEX
Rk                Player OPS+   PA From   To   Age     Pos      Tm
26          George Brett  106 1224 1973 1975 20-22    *5/6     KCR
27          Ruben Sierra  102 1775 1986 1988 20-22  *9/78D     TEX
28           Eric Hosmer  100 1161 2011 2012 21-22    *3/9     KCR
29         Adrian Beltre  100 1918 1998 2001 19-22    *5/6     LAD
30            Buddy Bell   98 1665 1972 1974 20-22  *5/98D     CLE
31          Delmon Young   96 1435 2006 2008 20-22   97/8D TBD-MIN
32        Gary Sheffield   95 1244 1988 1991 19-22   *5/6D     MIL
33            Roy Howell   95 1008 1974 1976 20-22    *5/D     TEX
34         Melky Cabrera   90 1155 2005 2007 20-22    87/9     NYY
35         Carl Crawford   90 1611 2002 2004 20-22   *7/8D     TBD
36         Larry Parrish   86 1245 1974 1976 20-22    *5/6     MON
37     Aurelio Rodriguez   85 1272 1969 1970 21-22    *5/6 CAL-TOT
38          Jose Guillen   83 1131 1997 1998 21-22    *9/8     PIT
39            Sammy Sosa   82 1120 1989 1991 20-22  *9/87D TOT-CHW

   2. BDC Posted: March 07, 2013 at 09:42 AM (#4382682)
For some reason, I hear "Eric Hosmer" and my brain assigns it the pathway "Bob Hamelin." So I read this headline and think, hasn't that been decided already?
   3. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: March 07, 2013 at 10:26 AM (#4382713)
Damn...I didn't realize that Stanton was even better than Cabrera at the same age.
   4. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 07, 2013 at 12:18 PM (#4382822)
Jerry Crasnick wrote on Hosmer before spring games began, and Hosmer said he hopes an offseason strength, conditioning and nutrition program will keep him stronger this year.


Hosmer did look pretty lost at the plate at times, but he did look so good his rookie year, it makes me think he can get his head on straight and have a good career going forward. I think firing hitting coach Kevin Seizter may have an effect. Seitzer stresses going the opposite field, which seemed to help Gordon and Butler, but maybe hurt Hosmer. I'm cautiously optimistic Hos can be an All-Star type first baseman going forward.

Now, can anyone explain his crummy defensive numbers? He looks like he should be pretty good. He's fluid, gets to balls pretty well it seems. I also notice it seems like he botches routine plays more than you would like. He has this annoying glove flip on balls that skip in front of the bag, that may look cool but probably costs him some catches. I also think the Royals coaching staff has been poorly positioning their infield, causing Moose to have inflated fielding numbers (who seems average to below average, but is awesome in the metrics), and hurting Escobar's numbers (he looks fantastic, but is average to below aveage by metrics). Any other ideas?
   5. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: March 07, 2013 at 01:26 PM (#4382889)

not that it counts for anythiing but i have always thought bigger guys are more prone to struggle the first couple of years because of the bigger strike zone and being forced to adapt to pitchers capable of hitting corners. agreed that i think the kid needs to stay away from seizter's approach because that isn't his core competency.

looks like a hitter to me
   6. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: March 07, 2013 at 02:12 PM (#4382933)
Seitzer stresses going the opposite field, which seemed to help Gordon and Butler, but maybe hurt Hosmer. I'm cautiously optimistic Hos can be an All-Star type first baseman going forward.

Shouldn't the hitting coach adapt to the hitter's strengths? Alternately why have just one hitting coach if his approach works for some but not for others?
   7. Walt Davis Posted: March 07, 2013 at 05:06 PM (#4383127)
Damn...I didn't realize that Stanton was even better than Cabrera at the same age.

Maybe. It is a 366 vs. 350 OBP advantage for Cabrera. Stanton did hit 290 last year which is a very scary thought in its way but he's been more Eddie Mathews than Frank Robinson. What Stanton does have is possibly the greatest power we have seen in a long time. ISO through age 22, min 1000 PA:

DiMaggio 289
T Williams 284
Stanton 283
Mathews 281
Pujols 265
Foxx 260
Horner 255
Juan Gone 235

Cabrera is down at 223.

That's a nice list to be in and Stanton's in an interesting spot on it. The true greats, including guys like FRob as you move further down, all had OBPs 20+ points better. On the other hand, the "busts" (Horner, Gonzalez, Tony C, Andruw, Straw, Trosky, Powell, Canseco, Bruno) all had lower OBPs (a couple were close). Stanton's walk rate is perfectly decent (270 BA, 350 OBP) and it's not too heavily driven by IBB but the best players on the list either hit 25-50 points higher in BA or had 100+ points difference between BA and OBP ... or both.

With his K-rate, it's hard to see him even maintaining the 290 BA he had in 2012 (career on-contact of 401/821) so he'll need to cut the K-rate if he wants to challenge Bonds. :-)

Stanton so far this spring -- 1 K in 18 PA. :-)
   8. Walt Davis Posted: March 07, 2013 at 05:22 PM (#4383152)
looks like a hitter to me

Out of curiosity, what level of hitter? #1's list is full of good but not great hitters. Do you think he'll be Eric Chavez or Brunansky or Clark or Murray? (presumably not Pujols) As a 1B, that's a range from average to HoVG/HoF.

Then I'm not entirely sure the differences among those hitters wasn't largely just injuries and such. Chavez was chugging along at 125-130 OPS+ before he got hurt; Sierra had a nice run of 130ish hitting; Beltre is churning out 130 these days. Jack Clark was probably as good or better a hitter than Murray, just much less durable. So maybe that range of hitters isn't as broad as I first thought.

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