Eric Hosmer had perhaps the most important play of the year in baseball with his aggressive run to home on an infield grounder in Game Five of the World Series against the Mets. The gamble paid off, and capped of a wild roller-coaster of a post-season that saw him commit huge errors in the World Series, but also come through with clutch hits and what would prove to be the final nail in the coffin for the Mets when he was safe at home.
Eric Hosmer by the numbers:
He was a complete enigma in October, going through a massive slump with the bases empty, but also knocking in more RBI through his first 28 career post-season games than anyone except Lou Gehrig.
Eric Hosmer hitting .344 with runners on base in postseason, .036 with bases empty. He has 16 RBIs in 15 postseason games. @Mets— Richard Justice (@richardjustice) November 1, 2015
That dichotomy underscores the kind of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" hitter Eric Hosmer can be at times. He is prone to hot streaks and slumps, tremendous peaks and terrible valleys. Some of that may be a change in approach by Hosmer depending on the situation and how much he is pressing. In some at bats he seem intent on guiding the ball just over the infielders heads, like he did when he poked an RBI single in Game Two of the ALDS against Houston with one of the most awkward swings you'll ever see. Other times he looks intent on hitting the ball onto I-70.
Here is a tale of two Hosmers:
|May 16 to June 28||36||141||1||.244||.291||.305|
|July 4 to August 19||42||178||6||.375||.438||.581|
Hard to believe its the same guy. And its not just this year. Virtually every season has seen him go through maddening slumps followed by incredibly hot stretches. He obviously has the talent to be a legitimate All-Star caliber player for stretches. But will he ever put it all together for a full season?
Hosmer did put together the finest season of his career this year, putting up career highs in WAR, wRC, on-base percentage, and RBI. He fell one shy of tying his career high in home runs, and it seems like he'll never quite be the 30-home run hitter some may have envisioned when he was taken in the first round. Again, the slump seem to hurt. Hosmer hit six home runs over a two and a half week period in late April and early May, then hit just one homer over the next two months. Despite the frequent power outages, having a 15-20 home run hitter who can get on base at a .350-.360 clip with decent defense has a lot of value, particularly in this offensive environment.
We saw a more patient Eric Hosmer as he posted the second-best walk rate of his career. His ISO was the best since his rookie season, and he was able to cut down on his strikeouts slightly from a career-worst rate last year. Hosmer was a bit BABIP-lucky at .336, but he did post the fifth-best wOBA among qualified American League first basemen.
Hosmer won his third Gold Glove this year although the metrics do not agree with the voters that Hosmer is among the best defensive first basemen. His miscues in the World Series exemplified the issue a bit - he makes flashy plays at times, but still struggles from time to time with more routine plays. He certainly has the tools to be a tremendous defensive first baseman, but again, it is consistency that is the issue.
The 26-year old Eric Hosmer is under team control for two more seasons, and with Scott Boras as his agent, fans shouldn't expect a contract extension. He is likely headed for a $100 million contract elsewhere eventually, but Royals fans should enjoy Hosmer in his prime. With 3 WAR seasons in two of the last three seasons there is hope that Hosmer has seemingly turned a corner and become an above-average first baseman. With three Gold Gloves, numerous clutch post-season hits, and an iconic World Series play to win a championship under his belt, he seems destined to end up in the Royals Hall of Fame.