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Season in review: Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler

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The 1B/DH crew.

I enjoy the negative space and symmetry in this photo.
I enjoy the negative space and symmetry in this photo.
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Hosmer

Eric Hosmer is like a roller coaster on a caffeine binge. He has ups. He has downs. He set expectations high in his rookie debut. He fell far short of those expectations in 2012. He was pretty good in 2013, and I rather thought that Hosmer was ready to be at least an average player. I guess not, at least in the sense of being an average first baseman.

During a time in which the Royals perennially need Mike Moustakas and Hosmer to "take the next step" or "turn the corner" or whatever ambulatory phrase suits your needs, the wunderkinds are rather immobile. Hosmer's season encapsulated his career so far. Here are Hosmer's monthly splits in wRC+ in 2014 (not including playoffs):

Month PA wRC+
Mar/Apr 113 111
May 131 70
Jun 121 45
Jul 80 173
Aug 1 -100
Sept/Oct 101 133
1st Half 419 95
2nd Half 128 115

He started off decently. Not great. Acceptable. He fell into the depths of the 9th circle of hell during May and June. He emerged victorious in July and Sept/Oct from whatever trials he faced in the spiraling depths of the underworld. His hand hurt in August.

So, which Hosmer is the real Hosmer? Will the real Eric Hosmer please stand up? And so forth. These are the questions we are all wondering. Who knows.

As far as his 2014 regular season overall, it was pretty bad. He ran into a fair number of outs on the bases. His walk rate decreased. His strikeout rate increased. This is basically the product of chasing more pitches outside the zone. Eric, if you're reading, don't do that. It's so simple, so easy. Even a guy with his tongue in his cheek could stand there and not swing.

Postseason Eric Hosmer was a totally different beast.

Hosmer posted a .270/.318/.398 line in the regular season. He posted a .351/.439/.544 line in the playoffs. He had that big hit off the wall in the Wild Card game. He hit home runs on back-to-back nights against the Angels. He had a double-digit walk rate. This is the player we all thought he could be. Despite his terrible regular season with 0.2 fWAR, his postseason performance is quite admirable. I pray that July/Sept/Oct Hosmer shows up in April this year.

Grade: B-

Billy Butler

So how about the other guy? The ironic Athletic, Billy Butler. Butler seemed to incense Facebook users. People don't like seeing Billy pound the ball into the ground with runners on base all the time. Never mind his moderate power and excellent plate discipline throughout most of his career. Instant gratification and all.

Like Hosmer, Butler had a down season. His typically high walk rate was low. He had a high GB% again. His power disappeared. He had two good months, one of which was during Hosmer's absence in August. Butler had a history of hankering for more playing time at first base, so it's possible that 1) he really does perform better when in the field and 2) he was auditioning for a first base job with another team. The Royals love Hosmer, so Butler wasn't going to play 1B going forward. Butler wasn't a fit. With Oakland, he'll probably play 1B against lefties during day games on odd days, or whatever platoon Billy Beane is running these days. It's so hard to keep track when all their players change every year.

Billy's playoff performance was nothing special. He approximated his season line of .271/.323/.379 with less power. He did snag two hits in the wild card game, both of which brought in runs. So that's nice.

It kind of stinks that Butler is gone. I have written before in these electronic archives that Butler was due for a rebound in both production on fly balls. I'm sure his walk rate would come back up a bit. I'd rather have Butler on Morales' contract than Morales on Morales' contract. I'd rather have Butler's option than Morales' contract. The whims of a blogger matter little, however. Butler is gone, and the world moves on. Goodbye to Billy's Hit It A Ton BBQ Sauce. Goodbye to Country Breakfast.

Grade: D