As the offseason enters its final weeks, MLB Network is going through the league, position-by-position, ranking the best players using their famed ‘Shredder’.
Hosmer has sort of taken a back seat to his teammates Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr., but make no mistake. He’s an incredibly valuable part of this Padres ball club. In the shortened 2020 campaign, the batted .287/.333/.517 – good for a 127 wRC+, the second-best mark of his career.
Eric Hosmer brings a ton of value to the Padres
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Given he played just 38 games last year, he does not appear in Fangraphs’ WAR leaders for the position. But if you drop his 0.9 WAR into said list, he the 10th-best first baseman in the game in 2020. If you’re wondering, Carlos Santana ranked 18th, Pete Alonso – in a woeful showing – came in at 20.
Now, no one expects Alonso to replicate his 2020 struggles again this season. A lot of guys across the league put up uncharacteristically light numbers last year – for a myriad of reasons. But this feels like a slap in the face to Hosmer, who’s clearly trending in the right direction after altering his swing path.
Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune pointed out the dramatic shift in Hosmer’s ground ball rate in his latest piece – and if Hosmer continues hitting the ball in the air more in 2021, we could see another big offensive showing from the 31-year-old, who’s entering the halfway point of his massive eight-year, $144 million deal.
Prior to last year, though, Hosmer hasn’t been great in San Diego. We all know that. But signs point to him not just getting back to being a force offensively, but bringing his usual plus glove work over at first base.
I’m not saying he deserves to be a top 3 or even a top 5 first baseman. But leaving him off a list showcasing the top 10 first baseman in the game seems like a miss. At the absolute minimum, there’s no way I’m taking a 34-year-old Santana, who hit .199 last year over Hosmer, who’s still in his early 30s and is clearly trending up for the Padres.