The San Diego Union-Tribune's Kevin Acce first reported late Saturday night that the Padres had a agreed a deal in place with free agent first baseman, Eric Hosmer. The former all-star (2016) and four time Gold Glove winner represents San Diego's largest ever financial commitment to a player. Jon Morosi (MLB Network) has reported the deal to be in the region of $144m/8 years with an option to opt out after 5 years.
The South Florida native belted 25 home runs on the way to a career best .318 for the Royals in 2017. Hosmer played all 162 games for Kansas City last year and has only missed 8 games over the past 3 seasons. It's believed that this durability and his fluency in Spanish were both key reasons for the Padres identifying Hosmer as their first baseman of the future subsequently allowing them to break their franchise contract record in the process to get their man.
Left Handed Help:
The Padres have had real struggles against left handed pitching over the past 3 years, something which is largely understandable when in a division with Clayton Kershaw, Madison Bumgarner, Alex Wood, Robbie Ray, Patrick Corbin and Rich Hill. Over the past 3 seasons they are yet to see their team batting average rise above .250. This is something that has been a key contributor in their struggles to beat left handed starting pitching having gone 19-27 (2017) , 21-22 (2016) and 19-21 (2015) vs south paws.
Batting Averages vs LHP
2017 = 0.226 (30th in MLB)
2016= 0.250 (23rd in MLB)
2015= 0.239 (25th in MLB)
The arrival of Eric Hosmer should help combat San Diego's south paw struggles as demonstrated in the graphic below (Courtesy of FanGraphs). Despite being a left handed hitter, Hosmer is able to hit the ball from foul line to foul line with no obvious pull tendency, something particularly common in left handed power hitters.
Something which really impressed me and stood out from Hosmer's batted ball chart were his 10 opposite field home runs, 6 more than the 4 he's hit to right, the far more likely landing spot for a left handed long ball. Its clear to see from his heatmap below that Hosmer relishes the ball down and away in the lower left quadrant of the plate. This heatmap goes along way in explaining the uniqueness to his approach at the plates, thanks to his natural tendency to square the ball either back up or the middle or between second and third base into left field.
Eric Hosmer's brilliance against a pitches out over the far side of the plate can be brilliantly illustrated in the sequence below. Here we see Hosmer on August 12th against The White Sox' James Shields at US Cellular. Having gone 0-3 the previous evening, any other hitter would have been expected to take a couple of first innings pitches, to have a look at the starters stuff. Right out of the gate on the first pitch of his first AB, Hosmer gets the pitch he is looking for. A fast ball on the corner.
Hosmer resists the urge to get out in front of it and end up puling it foul along the first base line. By holding his weight out over his knees he remains balanced, preventing his hips from roatating and his hands 'getting out in front'.
At only 92mph, Hosmer has to refrain from getting out in front and either pulling foul or rolling his hands over for a simple ground ball to second base. When the time comes, Hosmer's weight shifts quickly from both feet back to just his back knee and hip. Now in a position like a coiled spring, Hosmer is able to unload his weight through the ball with full extension of his arms and drive the ball the other way.
The ball explodes off of the bat and gives the Royals a 1-0 lead, courtesy of Eric Hosmer.