Eric Hosmer is one of the most promising rookies in the American League. Part of the vaunted Kansas City Royals farm system, Hosmer debuted this season to much acclaim, getting out to a hot start only to cool in June. The young first baseman found his form heading into the break with three walks, three home runs and three doubles already in July. His future is very bright.
Sadly, he still plays for the Royals. Their future is not bright, no matter how rich their farm system. Once you get the Royals stink on you, it never comes off.
For as much as we hear of the vaunted farm system, the Royals are yet to translate the pipeline of young talent to success on the field. Mostly because they continually employ people like Jeff Francoeur, but also because…I don’t know, really. More importantly, their narrative of futility is fun to poke fun at.
Leading off the ninth inning of yesterday’s 2-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers, Eric Hosmer knocked a double off Tigers’ closer Jose Valverde. Okay! The Royals are in business. Tying run on second, nobody out.
After the inevitable Francoeur strikeout, Hosmer grew restless. “This team needs me to create something, it needs a spark” I can only assume Hosmer thought to himself between bouts of madness.
So how did he respond to his own intrinsic motivation to win the game for his team? By getting thrown out trying to steal third base. In the ninth inning. Of a one-run game.
Sure, Valverde wasn’t paying much attention and Avila made a great throw. BUT STILL! The value of that extra 90 feet does not outweigh the penalty of getting caught. He reduced his team’s win probability by 23% after increasing by 24% with the double that got him there.
Quoting WPA stats may not resonate with proponents of “putting pressure on the defense” and “making things happen” but a bad stolen base attempt in this situation is nearly inexcusable. Hosmer isn’t even a base stealer! Only two swipes this year and a minor league career high of 14 across three levels, not many would argue he earned the green light. Royals manager Ned Yost claims Hosmer had the “go if you get a chance” sign with the bottom of the order coming up.
Such is the lot in life for Royals fans. Get Justin Verlander out of the game, stay within a run, get a runner in scoring position against a tough closer. Get one of your corner infielding cornerstones to the plate with the other in scoring position, end the rally succinctly with a sad trombone-worthy stolen base attempt. It’s the Royals Way, really.