KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 21: First baseman Eric Hosmer #35 of the Kansas City Royals is congratulated after hitting a home run in the fifth inning of a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Kauffman Stadium on April 21, 2012 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Tim Umphrey/Getty Images)
Last season, the Kansas City Royals called up first baseman Eric Hosmer to great fanfare, a rare moment of genuine hope. This was the organizational crown jewel, an athletic power-hitting slugger that would ultimately become Kansas City's best player since George Brett.*
*We had heard this story before, because it's an easy story to tell (youth+talent+hype=dumb comparisons), but people ignore that reality in the moment since it's no fun to remind everyone that no, nobody is going to be the next freaking George Brett.
From the moment he got a vision issue figured out following his first pro season, Hosmer has looked like a potentially special baseball player. After beginning the 2010 season in High Single-A, he was the starting first baseman for Kansas City by early May 2011 at the tender age of 21. That doesn't happen by accident.
But since then, fans have simply waited. They've waited for Hosmer to blow up, smack baseballs like Joey Votto and bring the Royals offense to the promise land. They've waited for Hosmer to become that first big, shining beacon of hope in a rebuilding process that's supposedly coming to its nadir. They're still waiting.
But don't worry, Royals fans: it's going to happen. Hosmania is going to happen.
So far, over 146 games, Hosmer has hit .285/.332/.465 with 29 doubles, 24 homers and 12 steals over 644 plate appearances. Assuming he's been roughly average defensively at first base so far (UZR hates his defense but I don't buy it), that's a slightly above-average regular.
Of couse, this would all ignore Hosmer's age and progression, both of which are key factors in this equation. At the moment, Hosmer is just 22, making one of the youngest players in all of baseball. He's also been improving ever since moving to Kansas City, learning to take advantage of his power and patience without hurting his ability to make contact.
From July 1 through the end of last season, Hosmer hit .312/.350/.511 with 14 homers over 340 plate appearances. This season, he's hit five homers and walked 12% of the time while maintaining a 15% strikeout rate; if his BABIP wasn't .204, he'd be among the league-leaders in a host of offensive categories.
Basically, this is all to say that Eric Hosmer hasn't given us any reason to believe that he won't blow up. There simply isn't a single reason to believe that this guy won't turn into a superstar, other than the fact that Royals prospects just never seem to pan out like they're supposed to lately.
Maybe he's taking a little longer than you wanted, but then you should probably consider that Hosmer is still younger than say, Padres catching prospect Yasmani Grandal. The fact that he's been as good as he's been at such a young age shouldn't be a knock, it should be considered another example of why the Royals are so lucky to have him on hand.
It's been a rough start to the season for Royals fans, understandably. Just don't get too down, because your cornerstone is still quite intact.