"Inside" the numbers: Eric Hosmer

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The Kansas City Royals' patience with Eric Hosmer has paid off.

Hosmer had three hits and five RBI as the Royals made it 12 wins in 13 games with their 13-0 rout of the Minnesota Twins on Monday night.

Over the last two-and-a-half months, Hosmer has averted the issues that led to a sophomore slump and carried over into the start of 2013. Let’s take a closer look at the results of his work.

The basics

Hosmer is hitting .315 with a .496 slugging percentage 11 home runs and 42 RBI in his last 70 games, far outweighing the minimal damage he did in his first 37 games.

Eric Hosmer

In that span, he hit .247 with a .333 slugging percentage and only one home run.

The numbers in this current stretch are a little better than Hosmer’s rookie season of 2011, as noted in the chart displayed on the right. There were high expectations for a big 2012 from Hosmer, but his numbers parachuted.

Much of Hosmer’s improvement coincided with George Brett’s brief tenure as hitting coach (during which Hosmer hit .308 and slugged .525). But it has carried over since Brett’s resignation.

Hosmer went 0-for-4 the day Brett resigned, but is 16-for-43 (.372 batting average) since then, with three straight multi-hit games.

The inside scoop

All three of Hosmer’s hits tonight came on pitches over the inner-half of the plate, or just off the inside corner.

Eric Hosmer vs. inner-half pitches

That coincides with the area in which Hosmer has made the biggest improvement in this 70-game tear.

From the start of the 2012 season until just prior to this successful run, Hosmer missed on one of every five swings against those pitches. He’s now missing at a rate of one of every seven swings.

The pitches he was missing and fouling off, he’s now doing significant damage against. Hosmer's rate of hitting ground-balls was 59 percent through the end of June. It is 51 percent since then.

Baseball Prospectus’ (and ESPN Magazine contributor) Sam Miller and ESPN’s Keith Law each wrote about Hosmer’s issues getting around on fastballs.

Wrote Miller: “I can’t stress enough how overmatched he looked by good fastballs—anything over 92, really …”

Since July 3, Hosmer is 15-for-32 with three homers against pitches thrown 93 mph or harder, including his home run on Monday, which came against a 93 mph fastball.

Hosmer’s improvement can also be seen in his WAR.

He entered June 6 with a Wins Above Replacement of 0.3 this season.

In two months, that has climbed to 2.2. The only Royals position player with a bigger jump over that time period is outfielder Lorenzo Cain, an improvement that is largely defense-based.

Did You Know?

The Royals hadn’t had a first baseman with a three-hit, five-RBI game in nearly five years.

The last was Ryan Shealy in 2008.