Brotherly advice part of Hosmer's turnaround
Third-year Royal credits recent surge to family member, KC coaches
KANSAS CITY -- After a slow start, Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer is heating up in June, and he has an interesting group of people to thank for helping him.
The first two seem relatively obvious: Pedro Grifol and Hall of Famer George Brett were hired to help Royals hitters on May 30. The third is Mike Hosmer, Eric's brother and longtime hitting ally back home.
When Eric Hosmer made it to Kansas City in 2011, he made a great first impression, finishing third in American League Rookie of the Year Award voting after leading all qualified MLB rookies in batting average, go-ahead RBIs and game-winning RBIs. He also led AL rookies in hits, runs and multi-hit games; he ranked second in RBIs, doubles, total bases and extra-base hits; third in home runs, walks and slugging percentage; and fourth in on-base percentage.
However, he wasn't immune to the sophomore slump.
Eric Hosmer struggled the next season, batting .255 and going hitless in his last 18 at-bats while batting a right shoulder strain that caused him to miss the last six games. Despite his troubles, he was still one of three finalists for the Rawlings Gold Glove Award among AL first basemen.
Following the 2012 campaign is where his brother Mike comes in. Eric Hosmer went home to Cooper City, Fla., during the offseason and consulted his brother about his swing. The two worked in the outdoor batting cage Eric Hosmer added to his house.
"I've been hitting with my brother ever since I was in diapers, so basically I just [said to] him, 'Hey, if you see anything that doesn't look right or something like that, let me know,'" Eric Hosmer said. "We spent a lot of time in the offseason working with each other. It's just all hard work and trying to be dedicated at the same time, trying to keep everything as simple as possible."
The changes didn't come quickly though, as Eric Hosmer's struggles continued in the first two months of the season, in which he batted .261. This month, however, he's batting .306, to pull his average for the year up to .275, with nine multi-hit games and two home runs in the last 10 games.
"He's really starting to turn it around," manager Ned Yost said. "I can't remember the last time he pulled a home run. He's starting to get back to doing what made him so intriguing and interesting his rookie year."
Eric Hosmer's even got his slugging percentage up to .471 this month from .352 in May, and a .355 on-base percentage up from .307 last month.
In addition to his offseason work with Mike, Eric Hosmer is giving Grifol and Brett a lot of credit for his recent improvements.
"We're just trying to simplify a lot of things in my swing, so there are not too many moving parts and just focus on a couple main parts that you've got to worry about, and it's really been helping out lately," Eric Hosmer said. "I feel like I'm using my legs and driving the ball more. It's still a work in progress, and there's still a lot of work to be done, but right now, we're in a good spot, and I feel good and pretty comfortable in the box."
Brett has seen the biggest improvement in Eric Hosmer's ability to pull the ball to right field and right-center.
"When we got here, he wasn't pulling the ball at all," Brett said. "He was hitting a lot of ground balls to shortstop, ground balls to third, fly balls to left, and he was kind of cutting off his swing a little bit. But through these drills Pedro knew about, when we got him doing these things, all of a sudden he is able to pull the ball to right field with extreme power, and he's still able to drive the ball to left field. It's just that this swing is quicker and through the ball and he is getting a better weight shift and hitting off his back leg."
While Grifol has been focusing on the drills, Brett is working with Eric Hosmer on his approach at the plate. The two-sided attack seems to be working as the third-year player's stats continue to climb.
"They've been great," Eric Hosmer said. "They're all about approach and having a plan going up there. They've been a tremendous help in between at-bats, kind of helping you with what to look for in certain tendencies for a pitcher and stuff. They've been great so far, and just having George in the dugout, period, has been great for this team, and we hope that he sticks around."
Kathleen Gier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.