One of the most improved players from last season, Eric Hosmer, said the Padres are on a mission to be World Series champions at the conclusion of the 2021 season.
Aside from Wil Myers, was there anyone who improved more on the Padres roster than Eric Hosmer? Signing an eight-year contract worth $144M comes with enormous expectations, but Hosmer’s first two years in San Diego were disappointing. Between Myers and Hosmer, the Padres had two glaring under-performing players on large contracts with trade rumors circling around the former. Simultaneously, fans desperately came up with creative trade packages to eat some of Hosmer’s contract.
However, if Opening Day was any indication, Hosmer was primed for a bounceback year. The 31-year-old had a pair of three-run doubles in the Padres onslaught over the Diamondbacks and starter Madison Bumgarner. Myers, of course, went on to lead the team with a .959 OPS.
“Wil had a great year, but, you know, honestly, to me, Wil didn’t change much,” Hosmer told the media on Wednesday. “[He was the] same guy, confident around the clubhouse, great teammate. Obviously, his production last year was elite. He got a couple of top-ten MVP votes. I think the year he had last year. It went unnoticed because we have Machado and Tatis doing their thing and having great years. Wil had a great year last year that not enough people talk about, especially kind of where he was at the beginning of spring to where he was at the end of the year. It was tremendous to see that form, and Wil came to play every day last year.”
Hosmer had a bounceback year largely in part because he was able to elevate the ball more often than not. The previous two seasons, it felt like Hosmer was giving the opposition fielding practice. From an analytical perspective, the former Kansas City Royal registered a 10.3 barrel percentage, the best of his career. He also finished in the 80th and 85th percentile in exit velocity and hard-hit rates, respectively. And as noted, his 8.7-degree average launch angle was easily the best mark of his career since StatCast began recording the statistic.
“For me, it’s not as important,” Hosmer said regarding his groundball rate. “I just want to be productive. Misses are misses. And there’s certainly things that jump out that you recognize that adjustments need to be made. Personally, for me, I’m more a ‘feel-type’ guy. If I’m in the cage, working on stuff and doing the adjustments and feeling my way through that, I’m confident the result will get better that I want to clean up, or whatever result that is I want to clean up will get better. I understand I made some pretty good adjustments when it comes to that stuff. There’s also a lot of adjustments that I can still be a lot better on. Just trying to tighten my game up every day possible.”
First base is Hosmer’s job. There’s no uncertainty about that. But there’s no denying the Padres roster is crowded, especially with no DH in 2021. However, the versatility on this roster is going to make the Padres that much more dangerous and provide much-needed off-days without losing much in terms of production. The depth on this roster is outstanding, and it will certainly be a challenge for manage Jayce Tingler to find playing time for everyone. Despite that, the common goal is to hoist the Commissioner’s Trophy at the end of the 2021 season.
“The common goal is to win a world championship,” Hosmer said of the Padres’ aspirations for the 2021 season. “I think we all want to be, heading into October, feeling good. But at the same time take care of business during the season. Just seeing how A.J. [Preller] constructed the roster, you can definitely tell there’s a lot of guys that can play a lot of positions. It’s extremely versatile, you know, guys that can the premium positions as well. You know, if guys are banged up or guys are grinding through some things, we have the depth to fill in those spots. We understand we gotta take care of business, and we gotta get back to the playoffs. And we understand the common goal is to win a world championship, and we want to be as smart as possible getting there and doing that.”