Pretty much since the moment they arrived at the major league level, the Royals have been waiting for Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas to become the type of players they were expected to be. Both have displayed flashes of their potential at the major league level, Hosmer more so than Moustakas, yet neither has consistently been able to put together a full season of production for Kansas City. Hosmer has come the closest, putting together a stellar final four months of the 2013 season which made it appear as though he was ready to turn the corner. Moustakas also showed signs that he could be the player the Royals had hoped for, performing well in the Venezuelan Winter League before hammering the ball in Spring Training.
Instead, the 2014 has, generally, been a cavalcade of horrors for both Hosmer and Moustakas offensively. Moustakas struggled badly enough where he was banished to Omaha for eight games, in an attempt to correct his swing. Prior to Monday’s game, Moustakas had produced a .195/.259/.385 batting line with ten home runs. Hosmer, meanwhile, has produced a .254/.299/.349 batting line with only four home runs.
However, since being recalled from the Storm Chasers, Mike Moustakas has been closer to the players that the Royals had hoped for. Over his past 29 games, Moustakas has posted a .250/.308/.469 batting line with six home runs. That type of production is almost exactly what the Royals are looking for from their slugging third baseman. Eric Hosmer, meanwhile, hit at only a .195/.240/.295 in June, striking out 24 times in 113 at bats.
For some reason, it took the Royals to stick with Moustakas for over 1500 at bats before they sent him back to Omaha for a refresher course. Even though Hosmer has had more success overall in his major league career, he still has not produced at a level that is needed from a major league first baseman. It is perfectly fine if Hosmer turns out to be a doubles hitting machine, along the lines of a Mark Grace or a John Olerud. Their ability to drive the ball into the gaps and hit over .300 made both players extremely valuable commodities in the lineup.
Instead, much like Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer also appears to have that ‘sacred cow’ designation. No matter how much he struggles, his spot in the lineup remains safe. Ned Yost may prize Hosmer’s defense, just as Moustakas is prized for his glove, but that can only take a team so far. Despite what we saw in the World Cup, a 0-0 score in baseball does not result in a point and a chance to move on.
With the lack of power in the middle of the Royals lineup, they need both Hosmer and Moustakas to begin driving the ball and to begin to be the players they were expected to be. After his brief banishment to AAA, Moustakas has come back and performed to the level that the Royals need. Perhaps Hosmer needs the same wakeup call.
Mike Moustakas has been much improved since he was sent down to Omaha. At this point, it may be time to see if the same treatment cures Eric Hosmer.