Year One of Eric Hosmer Was a Disappointment for Padres

Credit: AP Photo

There is no way around it. 2018 was very disappointing for Eric Hosmer in his first year as a San Diego Padre.

Eric Hosmer accepted the Padres’ offer in February to become the highest-paid free agent signing in club history, with an eight-year, $144 million contract. He arrived with much fanfare, coming from a World Series championship, World Baseball Classic title, and All-Star Game MVP. With a big contract came big expectations.

Those expectations went widely unfulfilled.

It was fun to see a player like Hosmer don Padres’ threads, someone with national notoriety with accolades under his belt and trophies on his shelf.

He got off to a good start, hitting .290 in his first month, but his power numbers were lacking. He was steady for the first few months, batting .282 with a 127 wRC+, numbers Hosmer is accustomed to putting up, through the end of May.

Then the bottom fell out. From June 1 to the MLB All-Star break, he hit .207 with a minuscule 47 wRC+ and a .240 on-base percentage. He had 10 extra base hits in those 40 games.

He pulled himself out of that funk in the second half, but not all the way up to his career averages. After the All-Star break through the end of the season, he hit .259  with a 98 wRC+, certainly numbers that are far below what Hosmer is capable of.

With the season now over, Hosmer ended up hitting .253 with 18 home runs and a 95 wRC+. All of these numbers are not what Hosmer nor the Padres wanted for his first year in that big new contract. Hosmer’s lifetime average is .279 with a 109 wRC+, and he had hit 25 home runs the previous two seasons heading into 2018.

So where does Hosmer go from here?

One of Hosmer’s most common critiques was his inability, or unwillingness, to hit the ball in the air. That was manifest by having the second-highest groundball rate in all of baseball at 60.4% and second-lowest fly ball rate at 19.7%, both being the most extreme of his career on each end. That had a lot do with his power numbers being down.

Yet in a recent article by The Athletic’s Dennis Lin, Hosmer said “Obviously, I feel like I’ve got enough pop to where, if I get the ball in the air on a consistent basis, I can really drive the ball and drive the ball out of the ballpark. I’m going to start right there in the offseason, and I’m going to see if I can get that down.”

It sounds like he might finally be jumping on the launch angle train. If a hitter of his talent and pedigree can start lifting the ball more, his power numbers should explode.

I am not ready to call Hosmer’s contract a bust. Calling it a bust after one-eighth, or at least one-fifth (player opt-out after five years) of a contract is like leaving a movie 20 minutes into it because you think it stinks. This was a learning experience for Hosmer and the Padres. This year was sub-par and both sides know it.

Eric Hosmer is still a good player that can do a lot of good for this young, rising Padres organization. 2019 is a very important year in the progression of this rebuild and Hosmer needs to work hard in the offseason if he wants to be the face and leader of this team moving forward.

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Nick Lee
Native of Escondido, CA. Lived in San Diego area for 20 years. Padres fan since childhood (mid-90s). I have been writing since 2014. I currently live near Seattle, WA and am married to a Seattle sports girl. I wore #19 on my high school baseball team for Tony Gwynn. I am a stats and sports history nerd. I attended BYU on the Idaho campus. I also love Star Wars.

10 thoughts on “Year One of Eric Hosmer Was a Disappointment for Padres

  1. Thank you padres for signing hosmer. Kc tried and failed and I’m glad. You will see this from him every other year. Next year he’ll probably have a decent year. Ive watched him since he was a rookie. His swing is way too long and his stance is too spread out. I said when I saw him his rookie season if he didn’t change his swing he’d be done by 30. I still believe that

  2. The moment it was signed this contract became the worst in the history of the Padres, not just by a mile, but by … a solar system. It was embarrassingly bad at the time, and it will escalate in embarrassment each season.

  3. I’m not ready to bury Hosmer after a single bad year. He’s still young and has a consistent record of performance. Good players have slumps and bad years; Hosmer is no different. Moving Wil Myers off 1B is not that big of a deal, he was the single worst defender at 1B in 2017, a fact many Hosmer bashers choose to ignore.

    1. I guess I am a quasi-Hosmer basher, but far more a “basher” of the signing of Hosmer. “Preller’s Folly” (of signing EH) was not only exceedingly foolish, it is a move that will greatly hinder the Padres for 8 full years (7 now). In some ways, Hosmer himself is not the problem, it is MASSIVELY overpaying a below average player [mlb rumors states: “his .253/.322/.398 line ranked 5 percent below league average, according to FanGraphs’ wRC+ metric”], who plays a position of lesser of importance, who has displaced other (better) players, who the Padres did not have to pay nearly as much (NO OTHER TEAM was really trying), who they did not have sign for EIGHT years, and they had all the leverage. Now they are stuck. As mlb rumors put it: “Hosmer had his high points as a Royal, including during a career-best 2017, but also posted A NEGATIVE fWAR over multiple seasons in KC. He just completed his third such season, recording MINUS-0.1 fWAR in 677 plate appearances.” [emphasis added] Oh, and he is, as observed this season, not so great defensively. I am no Wil fan, and 2017 was bad, but he was far better the year before, even being pushed as a gold glove candidate (which, apparently, was hyperbole). Furthermore, as other articles have indicated, it is highly likely that he continues to decline over the next few years, and over 7/8 years he will be awful (at least by MLB and 1st base standards).

  4. A disappointment? Yeah and the Titanic had unexpected contact. There is no way to understate how big of a mistake this signing was, and how awful his year was. But the worst part of all of this is the Ground Ball King’s attitude. He flat out does not feel he needs to change his swing.
    This error will haunt the club.
    1) Hosmer sucks.
    2) Myers is moved off his best position to accommodate Hosmer.
    3) Myers in the OF creates a logjam, so..
    4) Myers at 3b. Ugh, this has been ugly, and his comments about being bored in the OF and not wanting to practice have not exactly increased his trade value.
    5) Now trading Myers starts to become necessary.
    6) Naylor moved to OF. A good hitter has to play out of position to accommodate this mistake. Starting to see a pattern?
    7) Now with 2 anvil contracts the team will have to pay to make them go away or is limited in it’s pursuit of FAs.

    Just remember how one bad contract (Ryan Howard) essentially sunk the Phillies for years, and look at what is happening with the Angels and Pujols. This is that kind of mistake.

    1. TT – thanks for really breaking down what was wrong with the Hosmer signing. The Howard and Pujols signings were perfect analogies.
      By the way, at the Padres Fan Appreciation Sale (50% off) , there were more Hosmer jersey’s available than any other player

  5. With 20-20 hindsight, the player to get would have been Yelich, but there were a lot of circumstances in play that would have made the Marlins and Padres unlikely trade partners.

    1. Padres stole RHP Paddack for soon to be 40 Closer Fernando Rodney.
    2. Padres sent Cashner and Rea (and T. Guerrero) to Miami for Naylor, Luis Castillo, Cosart and Capps, only to have
    to return Castillo because of Rea’s alleged pre-existing injury. Castillo has shown promise as a starter for Cinn.
    while Marlins shrugged of TJ surgery for Paddock after Padres obtained him. Miami soured on Padres as trading
    partner.
    3. Signing Hosmer only cost them 1 draft pick; they would have had to give up 3-4 prospects to get Yelich. Padres
    probably could not meet the Marlins’ price even if bad blood didn’t exist between them.
    4. While adding Yelich would have complicated OF picture, Yelich proved he was already a complete OF, which
    none of the current Padres’ OF are. Hoping that situation would sort itself out but Yelich was seen as a break-
    out candidate by many before his MVP year this year.
    5. At the time, infield defensive capabilities were what was being focused on and getting Galvis and Hosmer did
    improve infield for a ground ball oriented pitching staff. Ironic that Myers moved back to infield!

    Agree that Hosmer has the work ethic to show better than he did this year, but it was a reach to sign him since he has no plus tools for that amount of money. Will be a solid player but everyone will have to limit expectations. Don’t think he’ll be here for the entirety of his contract.

    1. That’s a good call about Yelich Randy and I agree 100%. I don’t think it would have complicated the outfield however. We have 3-4 guys taking up OF spots who are questionable as starters. Some seem to be of the opinion we have a loaded OF but what we really have are a few 4th outfielders (if we were a normal, decent club, but we’re not and we seem to be hooked on marginal talent..). Anyway, Hos was a bad idea in my mind primarily because it just adds fuel to the weird problem we have called Wil Myers. And sure, Hos has leadership qualities but that will have no chance to translate with the talent level we have this last year or even next year. Hos is also showing, like Myers, that he cant carry a lineup. So unless we get a legit power bat and someone who can actually get on base, these numbers won’t really improve.

      1. Franchy, Renfroe, Reyes, Myers and Hedges are supposed to be power bats. Hos, Mejia and Tatis are supposed to be OBP/Power hybrids and Urias/Margot are supposed to be OBP.

        The question is whether or not these players will reach their ceilings. If they’re close to their ceiling, that’s a pretty powerful lineup. Just a matter of TT making the right trade away, short term decisions at 3rd/SS/OF and Stairs helping them along their paths.

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