Eric Hosmer’s Arbitration Case with the Royals
By David Hill
Of all the younger players that are coming up for arbitration on the Kansas City Royals, Eric Hosmer may be the least likely to sign an extension with the team. Not only are Hosmer and the Royals $2.1 Million apart when it comes to their arbitration numbers, but Hosmer is represented by Scott Boras. On the list of things that Boras hates, the idea of a salary cap, people that do not think he is brilliant and long term extensions before free agency are rather high on that list.
Much like Mike Moustakas, Hosmer is a difficult player to quantify when it comes to a value. He has displayed flashes of offensive brilliance, such as his final four months of the 2013 season when he produced a .318/.367/.494 batting line with 16 home runs. However, Hosmer has not been able to have that type of production over the course of a full season.
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Last year, after the excellent ending to 2013, it was thought that Eric Hosmer was about to take that next step forward. Instead, Hosmer regressed, posting a mediocre .270/.318/.398 batting line. That power, which seemed as though it was beginning to appear, never actually materialized, as Hosmer hit all of nine home runs on the season. His 35 doubles were certainly nice, but unless one is putting up batting lines like Mark Grace or John Olerud did in their primes, getting somewhere in the twenties in home runs would be great.
Of course, there is a lot more to Hosmer than his offensive production. He is, after all, the two time defending Gold Glove winner at first. With that in mind, Hosmer should, at least theoretically, be above average defensively.
However, defensive metrics were not that fond of Eric Hosmer’s performance last year. For the 2014 season, Hosmer’s range factor of 9.07 was just above the league average of 8.97. When looking at range factor per game, as opposed to per nine innings, Hosmer was just below average, posting an 8.70 range factor, compared to the 8.94 league average.
Even if Hosmer is not making as many plays as the typical first baseman, he has to be making virtually all of those he has a chance to, and saving the Royals guite a few runs, right? Well….that is not exactly the case either. In his career, Hosmer is exactly average when it comes to fielding percentage, and has actually cost the Royals fifteen runs compared to the average first baseman. While those numbers are greatly inflated due to his first couple of years in the majors, Hosmer only saved the Royals one run last year.
What Eric Hosmer was last season, and for much of his career thus far, is an average first baseman. Despite his defensive reputation and what the eyeballs may see, he really may not be much different than the typical first baseman. Billy Butler, despite his reputation as a defensive liability, actually had a better fielding percentage and saved the Royals the same amount of runs at first in his 37 games at first last year. Yes, it is a relatively small sample size, but the statistics are what they are.
What is this type of production worth? According to Boras, Eric Hosmer is worth $6.7 Million, while the Royals countered with $4.6 Million. This would appear to be a case that the Royals should win, but you never know.