Not to pick on the Kansas City Royals, but their other star infield free agent is another the Red Sox should avoid.
Eric Hosmer is a fine hitter coming off a season where he set career-highs with a .318/.385/.498 slash line. He’s a former All-Star that warrants being mentioned among the best at his position.
The problem is that Hosmer doesn’t solve Boston’s need for power. He tied his career-high with 25 home runs this season, which barely topped what the Red Sox got from Mitch Moreland. Boston got more doubles out of Mitchy Two-Bags, so Hosmer produced only one more extra-base hit this year.
Hosmer is one of the best in the game at hitting to the opposite field, where Fenway’s Green Monster provides an inviting target. Unfortunately, his swing isn’t tailored to take advantage of that short left field wall. Only three major league hitters owned a higher ground ball rate than Hosmer’s 55.6 GB% this season. In a year where the launch angle craze led to a record number of home runs, Hosmer has taken the opposite approach. While his method has done wonders for his batting average, it’s not the type of production the Red Sox need.
Batting average is one of the few advantages Hosmer has over Moreland, whose struggles against lefties make him more suited for a platoon role. Split time at first base between Moreland and Sam Travis, who crushed lefties in his limited time in the big leagues this season, and the results won’t be too far off from what Hosmer would provide for a fraction of the price.
Hosmer’s defense has also been vastly overrated. Yes, he has an impressive collection of Gold Glove Awards but the advanced metrics haven’t rated him very well. He posted a -7 DRS and -0.4 UZR/150 that placed him well behind Moreland this year.
Hosmer is projected to receive the most lucrative contract of any free agent hitter after J.D. Martinez, another free agent target for the Red Sox to consider. Boston should either pay up for Martinez or look to find a cheaper source of power at either first base or DH.