Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer had a very nice rookie season as a 21-year-old in 2011, but then dropped off significantly last year and continued to struggle early on this season. There were even jokes made when Team USA chose the former No. 3 overall pick to replace Mark Teixeira in the World Baseball Classic this spring.
However, after a rough first couple months Hosmer has turned things around in a big way by hitting .322 with 15 homers, 22 doubles, and a strong 50/32 K/BB ratio in 91 games since June 1. And he’s still just 23 years old, which is younger than many prominent rookies.
Overall he’s hit .302 with an .807 OPS in 141 games as one of just three under-25 first basemen (Freddie Freeman and Anthony Rizzo are the others) across MLB with at least 300 plate appearances.
Beyond this season, here’s a list of all the first basemen since 1990 to qualifying for the batting title at age 23 or younger while posting an adjusted OPS+ above 115: Hosmer, Freeman, Billy Butler, Prince Fielder, Paul Konerko, John Olerud, Jeff Bagwell. That’s it. That’s the whole list.
One team has punched its ticket to the Fall Classic. Two teams are looking to join them, with the Dodgers carrying the distinct advantage. Los Angeles needs only a split in the final two games of the NLCS while Milwaukee needing to win both games at home. Doable? Absolutely. But to do it, the Brewers are going to have to wake up their sleepy bats.
NLCS Game 6
Dodgers vs. Brewers
Ballpark: Miller Park
Time: 8:39 PM Eastern
Pitchers: Hyun-Jin Ryu vs Wade Miley
The Dodgers will give the ball to left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu, who tossed seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS but allowed two runs and tossed 72 pitches, failing to get out of the fifth inning, in Game 2 against Milwaukee. Even if he again turns in a short outing Dave Roberts should feel pretty confident, however, as the Dodgers’ bullpen — considered a question mark coming into this series — has allowed only three runs in in 21 and two-thirds innings of work.
For Milwaukee it’s once again Wade Miley, who was the Game 5 “starter,” but who pitched to only one batter. I suppose it’s possible that Craig Counsell will burn him like that again, but it seems more likely that Miley will actually pitch in this game rather than be used as a decoy.
As I noted the other day, though, the Brewers’ pitching gamesmanship has not really been a factor in this series. The real problem for them has been their offense. They’ve scored only 16 runs in five games while batting .219. That’s actually identical to the Dodgers’ run total and average overall, but L.A. has been better at distributing that meager offense. Milwaukee has been cold at the worst times, too, going 5-for-35 with runners in scoring position in the series, including one for their last 11. If that doesn’t change, their season ends tonight.