St. Louis Cardinals: In Consideration of Eric Hosmer

St. Louis Cardinals: In Consideration of Eric Hosmer

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One of the St. Louis Cardinals takes that has really irked me this winter is the suggested signing of certain first basemen from Kansas City.

That certain first basemen would be none other than Eric Hosmer. Hosmer for all intents and purposes is going to get paid and paid well this winter, but it shouldn’t be from the St. Louis Cardinals. Hosmer has put up a fine career in Kansas City and has been a player many people can root for. He works hard, hustles, and can generally hit the ball pretty well.

However, none of this translates into what the St. Louis Cardinals need this offseason. The St. Louis Cardinals are approaching this offseason with the need to acquire one or two “big bats”. Naturally, one would look at the first base position for a big bat and would find themselves at Eric Hosmer. This is naturally due to that Hosmer will not cost the Cardinals a current prospect like acquiring a player via trade would.

By now you are naturally hopped off at the idea that I don’t think Hosmer is worth the price he will command and are armed and ready at the keyboard to tell me I am an idiot. However, if you would allow me to simply outline why Hosmer doesn’t fit, maybe I will convince you by the time I am done.

Defensively

One of the arguments that I have read from people for signing Eric Hosmer is that he will improve the defensive ability at first base. This is just absolutely wrong on many levels. I know that some of you reading this post, may not have a firm grasp on advanced metrics, so I will sprinkle in a bit of both for both parties sakes here.

Over the course of Eric Hosmer’s career at first base, he has averaged a UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) of -4.1 at first base. He posted a -0.4 (his best since 2015) this past season a season after posting a -6.1. In his seven seasons as the Royals’ first baseman, Hosmer has only posted a positive UZR150 and RngR (Range Runs above average) twice.

Matt Carpenter, by comparison, posted a slightly lower -0.7 UZR 150 but a much higher RngR (-1.2 to Hosmer’s -4.4) this season on defense. Which ultimately means Carpenter has a much better range at the position than Hosmer. This makes sense for Carpenter being a natural 3B.

To Hosmer’s credit, he did make three fewer errors than Carpenter who made seven errors this season. However, that can easily be attributed to Carpenter’s lack of experience at the position and a much weaker middle infield defense than what Hosmer worked with.

By all means, do not think that I am telling you that Matt Carpenter should be a gold glove winner at first base (I am not that dumb). However, what I am telling you is that there is not any defensive upgrade there. Couple that with Matt Carpenter’s ability at 3B not being all that great and the defense simply working better with Kolten Wong as the team’s 2B, and it just doesn’t make logistical sense to sign Hosmer.

Offensively

Let’s be honest, we all know Hosmer’s value comes from the offensive side of things. Hosmer had an outstanding year at the plate this season, he slashed .318/.385/.498 in a career year. As a result of this, Hosmer posted a 135 wRC+, meaning he was 35% above the average MLB hitter.

The problem with that is that even with this season, Hosmer normally sits about 24% lower than what he posted this season with a 111 wRC+.┬áThe St. Louis Cardinals’ current first baseman (Matt Carpenter) has never posted a wRC+ below 117 in his career and in a down year he was only 11% below Hosmer at a 124.

On the non-advanced stats side of things, Hosmer is known as a guy with a knack for getting on base, he posted a career high .385 OBP this season. That is a very good number for someone who plays a position that is not known these type of players. However, Hosmer’s best year is a huge outlier as he has only been above .350 twice before in his career. Carpenter, on the other hand, averages a .377 and posted a .384 this past season, one point lower than Hosmer.

Hosmer is also known as a power hitter. This really is only partly true. Hosmer has posted two straight 20 plus homer seasons, homering 25 times in each of the last two seasons. However, Matt Carpenter has actually posted three straight 20 plus homer seasons (28, 21, 23).

So, here it is clear that even offensively, Hosmer is not an upgrade for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Conclusion

Ultimately, Hosmer is simply not a match for this team. He would be at least worth looking into if the St. Louis Cardinals played in the NL with the DH, but the Cardinals do not. Defensively, it would make the Cardinals worse to play Matt Carpenter anywhere but first base. The club seems content on potentially making him a super utility guy for whatever reason, but that’s another story.

Even if that is the case, there are bigger fish for the St. Louis Cardinals to go after in the trade market to fill a potential hole at first base.

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