Apr 29, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer (35) catches a throw to first base against the Toronto Blue Jays in the seventh inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Hosmer Could Become an Elite Defensive First Baseman

May 3, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez (13) and first baseman Eric Hosmer (35) and left fielder Alex Gordon (4) hold their Golden Glove awards before the game against the Detroit Tigers at Kauffman Stadium. Detroit won 9-2. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, Eric Hosmer won his first Gold Glove Award for the Kansas City Royals. The slick fielding first baseman dramatically improved his defense over the previous season, showing a marked improvement in defensive runs saved as Hosmer’s glove was a key component in the Royals push towards playoff contention.

Yet, it may be that we take Hosmer’s glove for granted. Seeing him day in and day out, we have become used to seeing Hosmer make play after play around first base, helping the rest of the Royals defense out with his ability to snare seemingly any throw that is within the same zip code. Almost without fail, Hosmer appears to have an uncanny ability to make virtually every play at first.

This was not always the case however. When Eric Hosmer first came to the majors, he was actually the worst defensive first baseman for the three year period between 2010 and 2012 based on UZR/150 with a minimum of 2000 innings at the position.  With Billy Butler already entrenched as the Royals designated hitter, Hosmer was going to need to figure out first base in a hurry. He did exactly that, improving his footwork around first base to the point where announcers of other teams talk about his footwork and defense as though Hosmer is the second coming of J.T. Snow or Keith Hernandez.

Thus far in 2014, Hosmer has been even better than he was last year. He has already been worth three defensive runs saved and has eleven total zone runs saved. While Hosmer may not get the same amount of chances that other first basemen receive due to the fly ball nature of the Royals pitching staff, he is certainly making the most out of those chances he does have. The improved footwork that he displayed last season, along with his ability to make the moving catch that he began doing this season, have only served to improve Hosmer’s reputation on defense around the game.

Eric Hosmer is presently at the point where he appears to be a perennial candidate for a Gold Glove award. His nimbleness and fluidity around the bag are almost unmatched at this point. At age 24, and as he gets more and more comfortable at first base, Hosmer could potentially only be scratching the surface of his defensive capabilities.

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  • Tyler_KC_Fan

    I’m pretty sure this isn’t a surprise though. Hosmer was thought to have the ability of becoming the best 1B in the league and last year proved that. I don’t think people thought last year was a fluke or anything. Just like how Salvy was thought to become the best catcher in the league. Esky is playing like the best SS in the AL also. As of right now I would say Gordon, Esky, Hosmer and Salvy are top Gold Glove prospects. Cain and Omar are right behind them though. When those 6 aren’t playing there is a significant difference in how the position looks during the game.

    • jimfetterolf

      Cain is probably the best of the bunch being the best CF out there.

  • jessanders

    I find it funny the number of people who still talk about Hosmer being a defensive liability.

    I’m sorry, he’s good. He’s not just good, he’s by far the best 1st basemen we’ve had since Wally Joyner (talk about going a ways back), and might be better than Joyner was.

    He also can hit a bit…

  • jimfetterolf

    Hosmer has been elite for awhile with his size, wingspan, and athleticism, but too many people have been distracted by the joke which is the so-called advanced defensive metrics. Eyeballs see a great defender. Guess the Golden Glove got the attention of some of the spreadsheet ninjas, so they are coming around.

    • Dave Hill

      Exactly. And even the metrics are beginning to agree with the eyeball test.

      • jimfetterolf

        Fangraphs has him at -2 def and BR at 0 dW.

        • Dave Hill

          I was primarily looking at defensive runs saved on B-R, but his other numbers there also appeared to have improved over the past few years. The sabermetric crowd may not see what we fans do, mainly because he does not get the same number of chances that most first basemen receive.

  • moretrouble

    Only time will tell, but Eric Hosmer could become an elite 1Bman … period! He’s already an elite defender … as his Gold Glove would suggest.