At the beginning of the year, Ned Yost stated his preference for the designated hitter position to be more of a revolving spot in the lineup, as opposed to being held down by one specific player. Since Eric Hosmer injured his hand back on July 20th, the Royals may be giving a glimpse into the future of the position, perhaps as soon as next season.
Over those thirteen games, the Royals have used five different designated hitters. Since Billy Butler has been pressed into service as the Royals main first baseman, he has only made two appearances as the designated hitter. Nori Aoki leads the Royals with four appearances at DH since the 20th, with Salvador Perez and Raul Ibanez each having three. The recently traded Danny Valencia had the other appearance at DH.
This may be how the Royals approach the position next year. By putting Aoki as the designated hitter, the Royals can keep their best defensive outfield while injecting a bit more speed into the lineup. Perez can get a partial day off while keeping his bat in the lineup. On other days, Yost can play the matchups, slotting in whichever player he feels would give the Royals the best chance to produce offense.
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While most of the names may change next season, if the Royals decide not to bring Butler back, this revolving door may well be the future. Salvador Perez would likely get a game or two as the Royals designated hitter each week. The Royals could give other players partial days off as well, especially if they have played virtually every day, such as Omar Infante has when he has not been injured.
Until Hosmer comes back, it is highly probable that the designated hitter spot remains a revolving door for the Royals. By playing matchups and using the position to give players partial days off, Ned Yost has a lot more flexibility with his lineup. Defensive substitutions and pinch running could be easier.
Eric Hosmer’s injury may be allowing the Royals to see what the designated hitter position would be like next season and going forward. Even though most of the names will change, the plan may still be the same as to how the Royals and Ned Yost are handling the position.