While some might be partial to Alex Gordon or Salvy Perez, the national perception of the face of the franchise for the Kansas City Royals is Eric Hosmer.
At least for this year. At least, perhaps, until July 31 at the trade deadline.
Hosmer allegedly is the closest thing to a superstar the Royals have. He’s been a longtime regular despite being only 27. He hits the ball as hard as any player in the majors and a glove that glitters with gold.
But Hosmer is basically on his way out. He’s a free agent after this year and has the notorious Scott Boras as his agent. I’m sure Kansas City, to Boras, is like playing for Hooterville. He always asks for an unrealistic amount of money for his clients and usually gets what he wants, or close to it — something with lots and lots of zeroes.
Hosmer is what a face of a franchise should be. He’s a strapping, athletically gifted player with dashing Hollywood good looks. He’s also smiling for the most part and looks to have a lot of fun when he plays.
But not this year.
Hosmer’s ghastly, punchless start is puzzling, considering what a great spring he had. He was a star in the World Baseball Classic and with this being his walk year, the thought was he was finally going to fill his enormous potential.
Potential. That’s a word most associated with Hosmer. While he’s been an All-Star and puts up decent numbers, he leaves Royals fans clamoring for so much more. They see a player this big and this strong and wonder why he doesn’t annually put up 30 homers and 100 RBIs. Heck, he’s hit 20 homers only once.
But Royals fans have such an allegiance to him that you never hear boos when he doesn’t come through, such as Tuesday night’s loss to San Francisco when he left enough runners on base to populate a small village. In 13 games, Hosmer has a grand total of one — count it, one — extra-base hit. He’s hitting less than his weight and you can see his frustration growing. His constant smile is now an aberration as he’s done little to contribute, even in the six Royals’ victories. He has hit into six doubleplays as he can’t help himself by swinging at bad pitches, almost to the point he’s making Salvy look like a patient hitter. And facing Royals killer Madison Bumgarner tonight, it might be a good time to give him the night off and let him clear his head.
I’m sure the impending free agency has to be weighing heavily on his mind and the probability of leaving the only team he’s known. He knows the small-market Royals can’t afford the gazillions Boras is requesting. Heck, few teams are going to be able to meet his demands if circulated reports are to be believed. He’s going to be a Yankee, a Red Sox, a Dodger or a National. They’re about the only teams that can pay his price.
Hosmer should be in the prime of his career. He has a World Series ring and can win games with his glove. He’s never associated with anything negative off the field and all in all is the type of player you want to lead your franchise.
But he won’t be leading the Royals for long.