Ever since Dennis Lin reported on the Padres potential interest in former Royals first-baseman Eric Hosmer, the team’s fanbase (and more specifically Padres twitter) has been noticeably divided. Friends have become enemies and enemies have reached mutual understandings with one another as many camps have discussed the potential signing of the free agent 1st baseman.
Hosmer’s weaknesses have been well documented, but this writer is here to convince Padres fans that signing Eric Hosmer is, in fact, a great move for the Friars. His above average offensive output, underrated (formerly overrated) defensive ability, and killer intangibles are a great fit for a rebuilding team aiming for a not-so-distant playoff run.
Now, let’s take a look at what makes Hosmer so great.
First, Hosmer’s offensive numbers by year (via baseball-reference):
2017 was no doubt a career year for Hosmer as he slashed .318/.385/.498 for a .882 OPS while putting up 135 wRC+ (7th among MLB first basemen), playing in all of his team’s 162 games. He also ranked 7th among MLB first basemen in K% at 15.5%, showing he isn’t much of a free swinger as far as other first basemen are concerned. Over the course of his career, Eric has gained a reputation for being inconsistent from year to year, but that isn’t really a fair assessment.
By looking exclusively at the WAR stat (which I believe is a bit overrated), there really is an argument to be made about Hosmer lacking consistency, but a closer look at some of his adjusted numbers shows a more consistent hitter. The former Royal has posted an above average OPS every season of his career besides his sophomore campaign in 2012, which can only be looked at as a down year. Furthermore, Hosmer has failed to reach a 100 wRC+ only twice in his six big league seasons, meaning his offensive output was above league average every year since 2011, save for the 80 he put up in 2012 and the 98 he put up in 2014.
Since his debut in 2011 Hosmer has put up a 111 wRC+, which at first doesn’t look amazing as he ranks only 22nd among active 1st basemen over that same time period, but it begins to look a lot more respectable when it is realized that he is one of only seven 1st basemen to play 1000 games since his rookie season.
Guys like Justin Bour (366 games played) and Steve Pearce (526) rank ahead of Hosmer in terms of wRC+, but they have also played less than half as many games as him, which most definitely skews the data unfavorably for Hoz. That 1,000 games number holds great significance as it adds to the very solid argument regarding the 28-year-old’s durability. The only first baseman that has played more games than Eric Hosmer’s 1,048 is new Phillie Carlos Santana’s 170, and he is four years older than Hoz. He has played in fewer than 150 games twice in his big-league career, and one of those seasons was his debut season in 2011 where he got the call up in early May. Durability goes a long way in professional sports, and for a guy that is reportedly receiving seven-year offers (according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today), that track record of staying on the field is going to be a huge selling point.
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Born and raised in Vista, Ryan has been a Padres fan since birth. Currently attending Palomar College, Ryan is trying his hand at expressing his passion for baseball through writing. There is no better life than the baseball life.