With an excess of corner outfielders on the roster who are performing offensively, is it time for the San Diego Padres to consider benching first baseman Eric Hosmer?
After the first two weeks of the season, several position players for the San Diego Padres are off to a good start. However, Eric Hosmer is not one of those players.
At the time of his signing in 2018, Hosmer was the most notable acquisition in franchise history. He was given the most significant contract in franchise history, eight years and $144 million. He is currently in the second year of that contract and is earning $20 million.
It’s still early, but he has shown a lack of production that gave Padres fans fits last season. So far in 2019, he’s hitting .203/.271/.297. His strikeout rate is high (22.9 percent). His walk percentage is low (8.6 percent). He is hitting the ball on the ground half the time (50 percent groundball rate). His wRC+ is an abysmal 51.
Compare these numbers with four outfielders currently on the 25-man roster: Wil Myers, Franmil Reyes, Hunter Renfroe, and Manuel Margot. When Franchy Cordero returns from the injured list, he can be added to this discussion.
Margot is off to one of the best starts in his young career. He has played the past few games in the leadoff spot and is seizing the opportunity. He also is the best defender in the outfield. Myers is back to full health and is at an expected level of production.
Reyes has shown much more patience at the plate. He’s taking more pitches and is being more selective. His 11.3 percent walk rate is evidence of this. His batting average is still quite low, but BABIP has not been his friend so far (.171).
Renfroe has shown improvement in the outfield. Also, he has a 126 wRC+ and gives manager Andy Green a power option to pencil into the lineup.
The thing here is that these four players should be playing every day. Four outfielders and three outfield positions – the Padres have quite the predicament. Hosmer’s lack of production at first base makes it even worse.
Seeing how these four players are producing and Hosmer isn’t, the question should be asked at some point if things don’t change. Should the Padres bench Eric Hosmer?
Yes, he’s making $20 million and has the second biggest contract on the team. Yes, the team waited out a slow offseason to sign him to that contract. Yes, he was advertised as a player who offers “prestige value” and is the kind of veteran you want for clubhouse chemistry. Seeing how this young clubhouse has come together so quickly, you do have to ask if this would be possible without Hosmer’s leadership.
Hosmer is the biggest professional sports star in San Diego not named Manny Machado or Fernando Tatis, Jr. He was named All-Star Game MVP in 2016, a game that was played at Petco Park. Fans celebrated when he agreed to a contract with the Padres. That fanfare is beginning to fade. The numbers are falling well short of the hype. Also, this production, or lack thereof, does nothing to help the Padres win games. Winning games, after all, is the whole point of playing the sport.
Taking Hosmer out of the lineup, even if only temporarily, makes room for all four of those outfielders to get the playing time they deserve. Myers was the team’s first baseman before Hosmer was signed. Even after all the moving around he has done, he would move back to a position with which he has familiarity.
It’s only mid-April, and there is plenty of time for Hosmer to figure it out. He was given a free pass last season due to having to adjust to a new league. This season, seeing how he has started is leaving little room for optimism.
If this keeps up, Green may have to make a tough decision and keep one of his highest-paid players on the bench.