The Kansas City Royals are coming off their best season since 1989, and are looking to improve on their 86 wins in 2013. Going forward, we are going to take a closer look at the players that should play significant roles for the Royals in 2014, as they try to make their first post season appearance since winning the World Series in 1985.
If you want to read the other completed profiles, just click here. Today’s profile will complete the series.
The last, but not least, player profile: first baseman Eric Hosmer.
Cheering for any successes Eric Hosmer may have is a little bittersweet. On one hand, the Kansas City Royals need Eric Hosmer to be a monster, a superstar. On the other hand, the better he is, the less likely he will be a Royal after the 2016 season.
Really, we have no choice but to cheer wildly for Hosmer as long as he is a Royals. We can can lament his signing elsewhere when that time comes, in less than 3 years.
In two of his three seasons as a Royal, Hosmer has done some very nice things. In 2011 and 2013, his numbers were pretty similar. His rookie season, his slash was .293/.334/.465/.799. Last season, it looked like this – .302/.353/.448/.801.
(Note: We are going to treat his poor 2012 season as an outlier, and hope that it truly is an anomaly.)
His rookie year, he walked less but showed slightly more power than last season. His average and OPS are both good in both seasons, but not near elite.
For Hosmer to take the next step forward, to actual elite status, he needs to at least maintain the .353 On Base Percentage, and he needs to raise his Slugging Percentage.
For Hosmer to be considered a top tier run producer, he needs to bump his home run total up to at least 25, and while at least maintaining his doubles total from a year ago (34).
Eric Hosmer is just 24 years old, and he hansn’t reached his full power potential yet. If he takes the next step forward with that power, and can maintain his Batting Average and On Base Percentage, he will be what the Royals need him to be.
More ifs – If Billy Butler and Alex Gordon can raise their numbers after a sub par 2013, to previous high marks, the Royals could actually have a very formidable middle of the line up. Maybe no as flashy as some others around the league, but very dangerous. It will be a very exciting season were that to happen.
Now, you may be asking – Why can’t the Royals sign Hosmer to an extension? The answer to that is 2 words – Freddie Freeman.
Freeman and Hosmer are almost exactly the same age and size, and play the same position. They have close to the same amount of experience. Freeman’s career slash is a bit better Hosmer’s – .285/.358/.465/.823 to .277/.331/.425/.756 – and he suffered a sophomore slump as well, although not as harshly.
Freeman signed a contract extension that will pay him $132 million over the next 8 years. Even if Hosmer and his agent, Scott Boros, were willing to accept the fact that Hosmer wasn’t quite as good as Freeman, and took, say $120 million over the next 8 years, do you think the Royals would ever offer that deal? No. Me neither.
On the defensive side of things, Hosmer won his first Gold Glove. According to Fangraphs.com, Ultimate Zone Rating was nearly as big a fan of Hosmer. In 2013, Hosmer earned a UZR of just 2.5. James Loney of the Tampa Bay Rays earned a 6.1 UZR. Still, the 2.5 showed great growth.
In his first 2 seasons, Hosmer was not a good fielder, accumulating a UZR of -10.5 in 2011, and -12.8 in 2012. No defensive metric is perfect by any stretch, but he is improving, and he has a good reputation defensively.
So, in summary, the Royals need Eric Hosmer to be a super star the next 3 seasons before he leaves via free agency. Better three years of stardom with the Royals than none, that is for sure. If he does attain star status this season, the Kansas City Royals will be pretty darn good.