Now comes the tricky part, which is evaluating Hosmer’s defensive work. Full disclosure, it is extremely difficult to determine a first baseman’s defensive value.
Statistics like Zone Rating and Defensive Runs Saved are awesome stats that give a general idea of what a defender brings to the table, but first basemen are the exception. For example, Hosmer’s -21 DRS is absolutely horrendous. That amounts to a little bit more than three runs that Hosmer costs his team per year. This is where it gets a little sticky because fielding metrics have yet to come up with a reliable stat that specializes in quantifying how well a first baseman can pick a ball at first.
Hosmer has won four MLB Gold Gloves and one has to think that those awards very well could mean something since they’re voted on by Major League coaches. Just kidding – they actually mean nothing.
His former manager, Ned Yost, did call him a “wizard” (as documented in an article in 2016 trying to make sense of Hosmer’s defense) and as of that article’s completion he led all of baseball in scoops since 2014. The bottom line is Hosmer is one of the best at scooping balls at 1st, but has trouble getting to balls off of the bat (so say the metrics). How valuable each skill is has been a topic of debate, but it’s hard to argue that Hosmer saving errors and turning them into outs doesn’t indeed hold value.
Hosmer’s agent, Scott Boras, has been running around peddling off the very well thought out “Prestige Value”, otherwise known as PV. This is a “stat” brought about to rival WAR somehow. PV is supposed to tell an executive how much more valuable a player is based on his intangibles. It’s a blatant mockery of advanced statistics, but it also sheds some light on what Hosmer can do in the right situation. His leadership characteristics have been well documented, and for good reason.
He is bilingual, and that would be a big plus in a Padres locker room dominated by Latin talent. He has also played in and won some big games, so he could potentially be the guy the team turns to if they end up in a surprise playoff race come September. Intangibles are a great asset to have, and although leadership skills don’t always translate from clubhouse to clubhouse, the fact that Boras is really pushing this PV as a quantifiable stat (it isn’t) means that Hosmer feels like he is the missing piece to any team and is willing to step up and lead wherever he goes. With Wil Myers failing to take over the clubhouse these past couple of years, and with Yangervis Solarte gone to Toronto, there is a big hole in the clubhouse that needs to be filled as the team’s young talent continues to flood in.
Eric Hosmer is a solid fit for the Padres as he is a good player that can be had for a somewhat reasonable price. Signing him at $140 mil over seven-years isn’t all that bad because of Hosmer’s youth and above average offensive production. Add his great durability to the list and he is a conceivable fit on any team. The fact that the Padres are even in on him is a good sign for next offseason when players like Manny Machado, Dallas Keuchel, and more are available. Ownership is opening up the checkbooks and showing the fans that they will be pursuing good players as they become available, and that’s a great sign of things to come. With not much money on the books for the foreseeable future, gambling on Hosmer is a move that makes sense as he could be one of the first pieces San Diego brings in to solidify its core. If signing the 1st baseman is a sign of things to come, fans of the Padres are going to be in for a treat as the team nears contention.
Hosmer has his warts, but so does Wil Myers. Solarte had them too. My favorite player of all time, Chris Denorfia, also wasn’t the perfect baseball player. It’s time we Padres fans embrace a Hosmer signing and take it as a step in the right direction as opposed to a deviation from the rebuilding path. Let’s be happy ownership is willing to spend and make our beloved team better by acquiring an above average baseball player by whatever means necessary. Here’s to Hosmer and here’s to the Padres.