Most of the time, a team has a player that the fans label “The Franchise.” This player can sometimes vary depending on who you talk to, but generally there tends to be a consensus on who fans deem “The Franchise.” For some teams, it’s easy to recognize who holds the title. Washington Nationals? A shut-down Stephen Strasburg. Green Bay Packers? Aaron Rodgers. Chicago White Sox? A.J. Pierzynski‘s Frosted Tips.
Heh. Ok, not really.
The role of “The Franchise” has been fluid in Kansas City for the last few years. I’m here to tell you that I think the mantle has been passed once again. If you asked a Royals fan who the face of the franchise was, you’d undoubtedly have heard the name Billy Butler. Well, you’d have probably heard that name only after a joke about how the Royals were more of a minor-league team than a “Franchise.”*
*We Royals are quick to disparage anyone who mocks our squad, but when we are together, it’s very rare for a joke not to fly. Nonetheless, only a Royals fan should get to make fun of the Royals.
Last year, things shifted a bit as Butler was moved to a full-time designated hitter to make room for a rising star in Eric Hosmer. Hosmer had a slash of .293/.334/.465/.799 with 19 homers as a rookie in 2011. As Hosmer continued to mash his way through opposing teams and my own lofty expectations, I realized that I began to think of Eric Hosmer as the face of the franchise. This was nothing against Billy Butler. Billy had a great season,* but he seemed to be much more comfortable taking something of a back seat when it came to being our franchise player. Regardless, I and many others spent the off-season looking towards Eric Hosmer’s 2012 season with great anticipation. As this season has progressed however, Hosmer has struggled quite a bit and those expectations of mine came crashing back to earth.
*And is having an even better one this year.
And as I struggled to pick up the pieces, I looked around for a positive way to lift my spirits.
Sal Perez answered the call.
After a bright glimpse of the future in 2011 and an extension in the off-season, Perez got hurt early on in 2012 and we didn’t get to see him until the end of June. Since his return, Sal has made good on what we saw last year. Since he came back from injury on June 22, he’s hit .311/.337/.510/.848 with 11 homers, 10 walks and 18 strikeouts. I was not expecting him to be able to retain his offensive consistency. I knew he was a defensive stalwart and he’s continued to prove that fact as he’s provided the ability to call a solid game as well as use his cannon of an arm to keep runners honest. However, he’s proving that he has a more balanced approach to offer as a player and it’s been a joy to watch.
I don’t mean to say all of this because I think that Hosmer is a lost cause. Far from it. But after careful consideration, I’ve realized that Perez is already assured to be a Royal through 2019. Hosmer is not and with Boras as his agent, it will take quite a bit of money for Hosmer to stick around when the time comes.
I think Hosmer is good. I think he will be great. He says all the right things and seems to be a great teammate, but the simple fact of the matter is that Sal Perez is producing and he’s guaranteed to be a Royal for years to come.
I think he’s “The Franchise.”