The rise of Moose, the struggles of Hos

Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas are good friends. They play on opposite ends of the diamond. They were both selected as first round picks in the amateur draft. They made their major league debuts last season. They dressed as the Ambiguously Gay Duo for their rookie hazing. It was supposed to be Hosmer as the superstar, the face of the Royals franchise. Moustakas was going to be an important piece of the Royals youth movement, but play second fiddle to Hosmer. But at this point in the season, Moustakas is becoming the superstar and Hosmer is just another player making his way through the major leagues, trying to live up to expectations.

The bottom line is Moustakas is performing and Hosmer is not. Moustakas has a .273/.341/.468 line compared to Hosmer’s .218/.287/.370 line. Moustakas has more runs, hits, RBI and home runs. Hosmer does draw more walks and strikes out less than Moustakas, making Hosmer the more patient hitter. Hosmer is still climbing out of an extended slump he had earlier in the season and he’s playing better. But Hosmer still has a ways to go before catching up to Moustakas.

The defensive numbers favor Moustakas as well. Moustakas has a .958 fielding percentage, which is above the league fielding percentage of .946. Hosmer’s fielding percentage is at a league average .995. Moustakas has made his share of defensive highlight reels, such as yesterday’s game against Houston where he backhanded a ground ball to third and from his knees threw out a runner going to second.

But there’s more than the on-field performance. There’s Moustakas’ nickname, Moose. It’s the perfect name for a player like him. In ballparks wherever Moustakas plays, his fans will don antlers and sometimes make moose calls. Almost every time Moustakas comes up to bat or makes a play, you’ll hear fans going “Moooose!” Heck, I even heard fans in St. Louis cry “Moooose!” after Moustakas made the final out of last Friday night’s game against the Cardinals. Or maybe that was something else.

Hosmer’s nickname? It’s Hos. Not Hoss, Hos. You don’t hear many fans yelling “Hos!” when Hosmer makes a great play. And Hosmer doesn’t have fans wearing antlers on their heads, faux hawks or Amish style beards for that matter.

Lately, the Royals are making Moustakas the face of the franchise. If you go to www.kcroyals.com, you’ll see Moose towering over the Kansas City skyline where Hosmer once stood. And that’s understandable. In All-Star votes, Moustakas is fifth among American League third baseman. Moose even has a Twitter hashtag, #VoteMoose. And if there’s any Royal deserving a spot in the All-Star game, it’s Moustakas.

Meanwhile, Hosmer isn’t near the top five in votes among American League first basemen and I haven’t seen any #VoteHos Twitter hashtags either. Looks like he’ll get a few days off during the All-Star break.

It’s not as if Hosmer is a bust. Far from it. You could say Hosmer is in a sophomore slump and Moose is not. In time, Hosmer will find his stroke and become the player fans expect him to be. And baseball being what it is, Moustakas could be in a July slump while Hosmer gets hot.

Despite the 12 game losing streak earlier in the season, the countless injuries to key players, the 1,834 roster moves (rough estimate) and the up and down play of the Royals, the team is 31-36 and only 4.5 games out of first in the American League Central. Yes, the Royals are still in fourth place, but they’re only 4.5 games out. With the return of Salvador Perez, Felipe Paulino and Lorenzo Cain, the continued great play of Moose and a resurgent Hosmer, the Royals could make a run towards first in the A.L. Central.

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