Last year’s big name free agent signing didn’t live up to the hype in 2018.
Eric Hosmer didn’t make a great first impression with San Diego Padres fans. After winning a Gold Glove in four of his last five seasons, Hosmer’s most memorable play of 2018 might just be the infield pop-up he didn’t catch against the Houston Astros. He was an All-Star in 2016 and received Most Valuable Player Award votes in 2015 and 2017.
In 2018, Hosmer finished with a final line of .253/.322/.398, all of which were his lowest marks in four-to-five seasons. His strikeout rate of 21% was a career-high as he finished with an fWAR of -0.1, not exactly what fans were expecting after the Padres gave him the biggest contract in franchise history.
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Hosmer is projected to increase that -0.1 fWAR to a 1.6 fWAR in 2019, a big improvement but nothing close to what a team’s top paid player should be producing. Based on his seven seasons before coming to San Diego, it should be safe to say that his average and on-base percentage will be a tick higher in 2019 as he continues to adjust to National League pitching, however, what we saw in 2018 is largely the exact type of player Eric Hosmer is.
He is a good player, but not an elite player. Unfortunately, fans will (deservedly) expect him to produce at levels he just isn’t going to reach. Other than his notoriously low launch angle that produces an extreme amount of ground balls, Hosmer was disastrous against breaking pitches last season. He hit just .189 and whiffed on 40% of breaking pitches he saw.
If Hosmer can find the outfield gaps, regain his form against breaking pitches, and continue his upward trend that began after the All-Star break, Hosmer could surpass his 2019 projections and be a pleasant surprise for Padres fans next year.
At the end of the day, every player on this roster will have to improve on their 2018 numbers. The journey begins in just over a month when pitchers and catchers report to Peoria for spring training. Who are you hoping improves the most in 2019? Who do you think doesn’t take that leap in 2019? Let us know!