What is it going to take to fix Eric Hosmer? It’s becoming increasingly apparent that the Royals are just as puzzled by this as the fans.
During this extended slump, Manager Ned Yost has tried a hands-off approach to let Hosmer work his way out of it. All he’s managed is an 8-for-23 stretch in 6 games (.348) which raised his average from .167 to .225. Of course, that was preceded by 0-for-11 which dropped him from .200, and was followed by 0-for-18 which brought his average back to .180.
Yost has tried moving him down the order, then back up. Batting lower was meant to take some pressure off him by taking him out of the prime production spots. Moving him back up to 2nd in the order ahead of Billy Butler was meant to get him more fastballs to work with. Neither move has sparked anything.
Hosmer was given a day off to spend extra time working with batting coach Kevin Seitzer. That must not have been a very productive session because he’s gone 5-for-35 (.143) since. And that includes an alarming 0-7 against Baltimore last Wednesday.
Just how bad is 0-for-7? Well, it’s just about the worst performance you will see on a regular basis. Over the last half century, there have been an average of nine 0-for-7’s a season. In case you’re wondering, 0-for-8 happens less than twice a year, 0-9 has happened 14 times in 50 years, and 0-10 is a once-a-decade event.
Friday’s lineup had Butler at 1B again, which meant a second consecutive day off for Hosmer. If one day off didn’t fix him, surely two days off will do the trick!
What the Royals have yet to try is sending Hos down to AAA Omaha. While that will certainly not be a popular move around the KC area, now would be a very convenient time to try it.
Let’s face it, with all the injuries, lineup shuffling and revolving door between the big club and the farm team for relief pitchers expectations have fallen considerably since the beginning of the season. The Royals are not at full strength, and won’t be for some time, so this is the perfect opportunity for Eric Hosmer to go to Omaha for a couple of weeks and work some things out.
Whether it is a case of bad luck or Major League pitchers figuring him out, Hosmer could really benefit from a brief stay in Omaha. Imagine the confidence hitting .300+ again would give him. Imagine how much more a part of the game he would feel by running the bases a couple of times each night. Imagine him coming back with a hot bat, and not having to choose between him and Butler when the Royals play 9 games in National League parks in the month of June.
Yes, sending Hosmer to AAA has more benefits than just his bat. Going there would give him a chance to play a little right field. I like the 1-2 punch of Hosmer and Butler hitting back-to-back, and the only way to continue that during inter-league play next month is to put Butler at 1B and slide Hos back to RF, with Frenchy being available to pinch hit for the pitcher.
I was glad to see Butler at 1B to close out the home stand against Boston, although there was obviously a lot of rust there. I’m sure he takes reps at 1B during practice, but that’s no substitute for game action once in a while. We can’t afford to have his bat on the bench in the NL parks, so it’s important that he keeps getting involved on defense.
So why not just wait until inter-league to send Hosmer down? Because by then 1/3 of the season will be in the books, and that’s too long to let him languish below the Mendoza line.