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.
The Tampa Bay Rays were reported this week to be “open for business” as far as trades go. Normally that means nothing happens until late June or something. The Rays are getting right down to it, though, as they’ve just traded closer Alex Colome and outfielder Denard Span to the Seattle Mariners.
The Mariners, who have played some outstanding ball lately thanks to some outstanding starting pitching, and are looking to bolster other areas as they make a push in the AL West, will likely slot Colome into a setup role in front of closer Edwin Diaz. Span will take over center field, allowing Dee Gordon to, eventually anyway, once he recovers from a fractured toe, cover for the suspended Robinson Cano at second base. If the M’s make the playoffs he’d likely do so in the postseason too, given that Cano will be ineligible for any October play due to his suspension.
Colome has saved 11 games for the Rays, with a 4.15 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 23/8 in 21.2 innings.Span is hitting .238/.364/.385 with four homers and six stolen bases on the season.
Two players are going back to the Rays: righties Andrew Moore and Tommy Romero. Moore was the Mariners’ second round pick in 2015 and made his big league debut last season, pitching 59 innings in 2018 but back in the minors so far in 2018. Romero was a 15th rounder for Seattle in 2017 and is currently plying his trade in A-ball.
The Rays, as expected, are using the 2018 season to acquire prospects. The Mariners, who are unexpectedly strong in the early going, are trying to go for it even harder. Quite a big trade for late May.