Baseball is a game of adjustments. To keep up with the steady onslaught of variables that are the framework of such a simple-looking game, one must out-tweak the opposition before getting bogged down with overthinking their next move.
Rookies often arrive onto the scene and make everything look effortless...initially. They have no fear. They have never tasted defeat. And they have always been the best at what they do. Period.
The statistical honeymoon is fueled by the lethal mishmash of natural talent and a naive swagger, a combination that typically bides just enough time to allow for a very candid crash back down to earth known as the sophomore slump.
Kansas City Royals second year first baseman Eric Hosmer debuted on May 6 of last year to hit .293/.334/.465 with 19 home runs, 78 runs batted in, 66 runs, 27 doubles and 11 stolen bases in just 128 games, good enough to finish third in American League Rookie of the Year voting.
Hosmer's second go-around has been quite the contrary, however.
So far this season, Hosmer is hitting .218/.284/.374 with nine home runs, 35 runs batted in, 29 runs, 11 doubles and seven stolen bases in 68 games.
If you look at his numbers over a 162 game average compared to last season, the cumulative stats actually project out to be very similar, meaning that Hosmer is very productive when things are falling his way. Things just aren't falling his way too often.
The fact that Hosmer is striking out less and taking more walks is a sign that the game hasn't totally defeated him yet. And the pressure to be the leader of this particular youth movement in Kansas City seems to be the only thing standing in his way.
When Hosmer should be driving the ball, he is pushing it. Instead of extending, he is leaning. And when he should be letting the game that he has played all his life simply come to him, he is overthinking the next move.
Hosmer has excelled at every level. His success is the result of hard work and natural ability. To prove that all the hype isn't empty though, he must be able to find the balance between the two.
There are certainly factors that make that difficult, but once Hosmer realizes that he is no longer the best or that he isn't the only one around to lead the next Royals' resurgence, things will become easy for him again and his sophomore slump will be a distant memory around Kansas City.