Loss of Hosmer causes a Royal flush
March 05, 2018 8:34 AM
by Mark Mayer
(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the eighth of 30 at-bats for the upcoming 2018 major league baseball season. On deck Tuesday, the Pittsburgh Pirates).
A recurrent theme in what baseball calls the Hot Stove season is the loss of a franchise player. We saw it in Tampa Bay with Evan Longoria and in Pittsburgh with Andrew McCutchen. But seeing Eric Hosmer decide that San Diego was a better fit than Kansas City was a stunner.
Hosmer took over the mantle from Alex Gordon and the team’s signature part both on and off the field. His character in the dugout can’t be replaced and with Lorenzo Cain gone plus Mike Moustakas still available on the free agent market, KC could be barbeque this season after World Series appearances in 2014 and 2015.
Ned Yost has been managing the Royals since 2010 and would appear to be safe this season should the roof caves in. He admitted never thinking Hosmer was leaving KC. Now that Hos has, the Royals did their best to repair the damage by picking up first baseman Lucas Duda, who hit 30 homers between the Mets and Tampa Bay. But Duda is prone to injury.
Second baseman Whit Merrifield joined Houston’s AL MVP Jose Altuve as the only players in the majors last season to hit at least 15 homers and steal 30 bases. Catcher Sal Perez is great defensively and off a fine 24 HR, 80 RBI season with the bat. Jorge Soler was the odd man out in a deep Chicago Cubs outfield and was dealt to KC where he will play right field. But Soler hit an anemic .144 in just 35 games.
As for Gordon he is an old 34 coming off a dreadful .208 batting average in 148 games. Gordon was billed as the next George Brett at third – a tag that he never could really live up to. He now is in left field. Danny Duffy is the ace of the pitching staff but he won only nine games a year ago.
Vegas has KC at only 71.5 wins and that’s probably stretching it. The Royals are 500-1 to win the World Series. Unless the core players all have career seasons, Royals fans may be wearing bags over their heads by the All Star break.
Encore: The schedule starts well for KC with 6 games against the White Sox and Tigers before trouble looms facing Cleveland, the overwhelming favorite to win the AL Central.
2017 record: 80-82
2016 record: 81-81
2015 record: 95-67
World Series win odds: 500-1
Odds to win NL West: 75-1
2018 season win total: 71.5