2012 Key Player: Eric Hosmer
“The Process”, as Kansas City Royals General Manager Dayton Moore has often referred to the Royals’ journey from cellar dweller to perennial contender, is dependent on many things happening, and many players producing. One of those players is First Baseman, Eric Hosmer. If the Royals are to make any waves in 2012 and beyond, it is critical that Hosmer build off of his strong 2011 rookie campaign.
Hosmer, who will be only 22 years old for the entire 2012 season, is likely the most hyped player to wear the Royals uniform since Bo Jackson, who was patrolling center-field for the Royals in the year Hosmer was born. He is represented by “super-agent” Scott Boras, who has made it clear that he will not be advising his client to commit to any sort of long-term deal with the Royals prior to hitting free-agency in 2018. So assuming Hosmer does not make up his mind on his own to remain a Royal for his career, the Royals will have him for 7 more seasons. And they need to get maximum production out of him during that time.
In Spring Training 2011, Hosmer tore the cover off of the ball and probably warranted making the opening day roster. However, the Royals had committed to giving Kila Kilahaue a shot at holding down the First Base job. So, while Hosmer went down to Omaha and continued to rake, Kila could not hit a lick. After just over a month of the way through the 2011 season, the Royals decided that Hosmer had forced their hand, and they had to bring him up. He immediately became the everyday First Baseman and finished 3rd in the Rookie of the Year voting, putting up the following numbers;
Avg : .293
HR : 19
RBI : 78
SB : 11
SLG : .465
OBP : .333
You might look at those numbers and say “yeah, they look pretty good, but they don’t jump off the page”. Then you have to remember, he was only 21 YEARS OLD!! He is literally still learning the game. According to baseball-reference.com, there is one player that most compares to Hosmer at the age of 21. His name is Eddie Murray, and he is in the Hall of Fame. Does that mean I think Hosmer will be a hall of famer? It is entirely too soon to tell. But it is very clear that the sky is the limit for Hosmer.
It is entirely possible that Hosmer could progress as a hitter this season, have an all-star caliber year, and the Royals still stink because other things went wrong. But it is nearly impossible to envision a scenario where Hosmer regresses in 2012 and the Royals have a winning season. It is for that reason, that he is as important of a player as any for the Royals in 2012.