There’s No “I” In “Team”…But There’s a Lot of First Basemen.

Have we mentioned that Eric Hosmer is in the big leagues? No really, I’m concerned that Kansas City fans might not be aware that he has made it to the show. There really haven’t been enough articles about his ascension and debut.

That being said, here’s another!…..sort of.

Ryan addressed a great point yesterday in his article regarding Kila Kai’aihue. It’s hard to remember that amid all of the hoopla* that surrounded and surrounds Eric Hosmer’s rising star, another player with hopes of finally making his mark in the Bigs was sent down to the all too-familiar minors.

*Yup…..hoopla

I’m not going to rehash Ryan’s point. Just go read his article. However, it got me thinking about the possibility of future problems(?) at the major league level.

Barring Hosmer completely blowing his chances in the big leagues, he’s going to be our first baseman. As in, our play everyday, legitimate first baseman. I haven’t heard, and really don’t think that Yost will divide the time at first base 70/30 between Hosmer and Butler like he said was the plan for Kai’aihue and Butler. Obviously, everyone has been excited about what Hosmer can bring to the table with his bat, but he’s also been highly touted for his glove work as well. His first night in the big leagues he was quickly tested on a sharply hit ground ball with runners on first and third. He speared it like a veteran, fired to Escobar covering second and grabbed the return throw to complete the double play. It may not have been the biggest test he’ll ever see at first base, but it looked good and gave the fans something to cheer early on.

Now, I’m not saying that Billy COULDN’T have made that play. I’m not even saying Kila COULDN’T have made that play. I’m simply saying that Hosmer made the play and made it easily on his first night as a major leaguer. He very quickly had an opportunity to show his defensive ability and he made the most of it. I don’t know, maybe I’m reading into it too much.

What I’m trying to say is that I think Billy Butler could be on his way to being a full-time DH. Of course, he could man first base if Yost gives Hosmer a day off or something like that, but it seems to me that his defensive opportunities are going to become even more limited than what they were. As mentioned above, Yost was already only planning on giving Billy about 1/3 of the duties at first base because of his defensive liabilities. Now that Hosmer, who is and already looks better defensively than Kila, is up manning first, it only stands to reason that Billy will be seeing less and less need of owning a first basemen’s mitt.

Now the key to this is how Billy will react to the situation. He was not necessarily quiet about how he thought clubhouse morale had improved since the departure of Zach Greinke and seemed ready to step into a leadership role with the signing of his extension in the offseason. He was excited about the youth movement and ready for the Royals to start working towards contention.

But will his attitude stay the same if the youth movement causes him to primarily DH? If Hosmer becomes the everyday first baseman he is expected to be, will Billy be satisfied being relied on solely for his bat? I can honestly say I don’t know. I hope so. He can’t exactly be converted to an outfielder a la Alex Gordon (chuckle), nor should he be. I’m perfectly okay with him being our DH. I just desperately hope he can be at peace with that….and the occasional chance on the field when Hosmer needs an off day.

There are a lot of questions surrounding our first base depth. I don’t even know what to say about Clint Robinson who is down in the minors mashing away to the tune of .340/.426/.640 with 8 home runs. And what if Kila does well down in triple A?  What will we do with him? And will Billy be able to handle a new role?

What do you think?

As for the Billy Butler question, I think that if Hosmer is really ready to make his big league stay a long one, we can say HOSta la vista* to Butler’s first baseman duties.

*Yeah, I just did that.

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  • jim fetterolf

    Been seeing this discussed on Royals Review, both Butler’s attitude and even his value as only a DH. I think Butler works through it but also think it may put him on the trading block as a chance to pick up another haul of prospects, as a pure DH doesn’t have the value of a player capable of also playing a competent position and the current team has a couple of good hitters capable of DH’ing today, plus Robinson and Kila, and even Moooose in Omaha having defensive challenges and looking like DH will be his natural position, but with at least the fielding ability to back up at 3B or 1B. What I think is that GMDM should be taking phone calls and figuring out ways to enhance value of trade bait. Nice problem to have.