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.