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 Mariners are in the midst of reconstructing their roster, a process which most recently resulted in the trade of first baseman/DH Edwin Encarnación to the Yankees, per a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan. While the teams have yet to publicly confirm the deal, the Mariners are expected to receive pitching prospect Juan Then and will likely eat a significant portion of Encarnación’s salary as well.
Encarnación is a sizable get for the Yankees, who could benefit from the veteran’s power and consistency in their ongoing drive toward the postseason. The 36-year-old infielder missed some time with a bout of lower back tightness, dental issues, and soreness in his left hand, but has still maintained a decent .241/.356/.531 batting line with an AL-best 21 home runs, an .888 OPS, and 1.7 fWAR through his first 289 plate appearances of the year. Per Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, Encarnación has another $11-12 million left on his contract in 2019, with a $20 million option for the 2020 season and a $5 million buyout.
Then, 19, was acquired by the Yankees in a three-person trade with the Mariners during the 2017 offseason. The right-hander currently ranks no. 27 in the Yankees’ system and made his last pro ball appearance for New York’s rookie-level affiliate in 2018, pitching to a 2.70 ERA, 2.0 BB/9, and 7.6 SO/9 across 50 innings. It’s not clear if any other players are involved in the trade, though USA Today’s Bob Nightengale notes that no other prospects are thought to be included in the package for Encarnación.