What Can the Cubs Get Out of Eric Hosmer?

Although not yet official, all points point for former World Series champion Eric Hosmer heading to Chicago to join the Cubs. The acquisition of Hosmer won’t cost the Cubs much, but what exactly can Chicago get out of a first baseman who at point was among the league’s best hitters? To get an idea, we have to start with a look at his numbers.

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A Look at Hosmer

A World Series champion with the Royals in 2015, Eric Hosmer was at one point one of the more efficient hitters in all of baseball. From 2013-2017, Hosmer posted the sixth-highest batting average (.292) among first basemen, and racked up an impressive 262 extra base hits. After that 2017 campaign, the infielder inked a massive deal with the San Diego Padres. From there, Hosmer’s production began to dip.

To put things in perspective, here’s a look at Hosmer’s stats over the past 10 seasons, split up into halves:

  • 2013-2017: .292/.351/.449, 115 OPS+, 94 HR, 262 XBH, 8.10% XBH/PA
  • 2018-2022: .265/.325/.410, 103 OPS+, 69 HR, 186 XBH, 7.48% XBH/PA

Just from looking at these splits, it’s not hard to see a decline in the figures for the four-time Gold Glove award winner. Practically all of the new Cub’s major statistical figures took a hit over the past five seasons, but even those numbers listed above don’t tell the whole story. Hosmer hit 40 of his 69 dingers over the last five seasons between 2018 & 2019. The 33-year-old did put up a relatively solid 2020 campaign, as Hosmer hit nine home runs and recorded a very solid 132 OPS+ during that season. But outside of that shortened campaign, the former Padre’s stats were at or slightly below league average.

A .737 OPS was not exactly what San Diego had in mind when it decided to sign Hosmer to a major deal that paid him over $20 million annually. Now, Hosmer will look to get things back on the rails in Chicago.

What it Means

Based upon Hosmer’s prior production, the expectations won’t be high. Yes, there are a few things in Hosmer’s game that are rather appealing. For one, Hosmer does still possess decent contact skills. The infielder has consistently posted above-average K% and Contact% rates over the past three seasons. Those are not terrible signs, so long as Hosmer can power a few balls through the infield.

In his prime, though, Hosmer excelled using a strong, contact-oriented approach at the plate that allowed him to stay on pitches and pound balls through the middle of the field with ease. It’s not an exaggeration to state that between 2013-2017, the former Royal had one of the best hit tools in the game.

We haven’t seen that Hosmer for quite some time. Back in 2017, Hosmer’s strength at the plate put him within the top 15% of all hitters in both average exit velocity and xBA. Fast forward to last season, and Hosmer fell to the bottom 40% in average exit velocity. Not to mention, Hosmer batted a career low .263 against fastballs last season. That figure is quite the departure from the .347 average that he posted against the heat in 2017.

Chicago didn’t receive much production from first last season. After a strong final two months in 2021, Frank Schwindel (.229/.277/.358) struggled in 2022. The same could be said for 25-year-old Alfonso Rivas (.235/.322/.307). Rivas showed a penchant for staying patient at the plate, but managed to record just 10 extra base hits over 101 games. Despite Hosmer’s less-than-stellar numbers from 2022, his 108 OPS+ was higher than both Schwindel and Rivas’ figures.

Hosmer most likely won’t solve the Cubs’ power problems, which left Chicago with a .387 team SLG that placed in the bottom half of the league in 2022. Most of Chicago’s run production duty next season will be laid upon the likes of Seiya Suzuki, Ian Happ, and offseason pickups Cody Bellinger and Dansby Swanson.

But on a short-term deal, it does give the Cubs the opportunity to see if Hosmer can find his stroke at the plate, if possible. Will it happen? It’s certainly possible, although the numbers from the Florida native over the past five seasons don’t paint a pretty picture.

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