MLB’s 25 Most Improved Players Prospects for 2016 Momentum

#24. Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Royals

2015 WAR: 3.6
2014 WAR: 0.8
WAR Improvement: 2.8

Even though Eric Hosmer is only 26 years old, his vast improvement in 2015 wasn’t so much a breakout as it was a return to previous levels of performance. The 2014 season was the exception during his young career, and it occurred largely because the first baseman forgot how to hit fastballs.

Typically, Hosmer is quite adept at turning a speedy pitch around and rocketing a line drive into the gap. But throughout his 0.8 WAR season, he consistently popped out to opposing infielders or lofted fly balls into the outfield, allowing defenders to drift lazily under them for an easy out.

Fangraphs shows he provided 18.3 more runs than an average player against fastballs during the 2013 season, and that mark stood at a career-best 22.5 in 2015. But sandwiched between was an uncharacteristic minus-1.3 in 2014 while he dealt with a broken hand. He also chased more pitches outside the zone than ever before.

The Hosmer, who overcame his lack of noteworthy pop and appeared on a few American League MVP ballots last year, is the real deal. Sure, that’s partially the product of playing in a strong Kansas City Royals lineup, but that element isn’t changing in 2016.