Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas

Why Hosmer and Moustakas might look elsewhere (other than money)

There are ways the Kansas City Royals could bring back both Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas.

Unfortunately, with both being Scott Boras clients, they involve David Glass developing the Midas Touch or falling butt-first into a Sorcerer’s Stone. (h/t all Harry Potter nerds)

Financially, it’s unlikely to work—had Hosmer continued his dismal early season showing then sure, there was a path that featured him taking a qualifying offer or a one-year show-me deal. That’s probably a non-starter at this point. Whatever you think about overspending on corner infielders in their late-20s, only Hosmer, Joey Votto, Paul Goldschmidt and Ryan Zimmerman are slashing .300/.350/.450 for the season—and Hosmer has as many Gold Gloves (three, at first base; it’s not fair to count Zimmerman, who was a good third baseman before time destroyed his body) as the other three combined.

And unless he dies between now and the time you read this, Moustakas is going to destroy Steve Balboni’s single-season Royals home run record, likely become the first Royal to reach the hallowed 40-homer plateau and generally become what everyone expected the No. 2 overall pick in the 2007 to become.

So financially, it seems unlikely that the Royals will be able to retain both without a sweetheart hometown deal—the likes of which Scott Boras clients are not well-known for signing.

But that’s just the money. There are actual, legitimate baseball reasons why Moustakas and Hosmer might look elsewhere.

It might be unfair to lead off by blaming the stadium—it can’t really take to social media to defend itself, it’s just a stadium—but Kauffman plays hell with power hitters; there is a reason Bye-Bye’s single-season home run record has stood for as long as it has, including through the entirety of the Steroid Era.

Kauffman Stadium may play particularly poorly for righty power-hitters (a 90 on BP’s Home Run Factor model, behind such notable pitcher’s havens as San Diego and Miami), but don’t underestimate what it does for lefty’s such as Moustakas and Hosmer. Clocking in at 95 for lefties, it ranks 39th this season among all of baseball, factoring in lefties and righties (one for each team, so 60 total spots to rank), and 21st among lefties.

“Small Sample!” screamed the disbelievers. Not so. Here, have a handy chart.

2017 90 95
2016 91 84
2015 86 97
2014 94 92
2013 95 93
2012 98 107 (WTF?)
2011 90 79 (haha)

Which probably helps explain why—as some poor numbers-cruncher making $11 an hour in Boras’ office has no doubt noted already—the home/away splits for Hosmer and Moustakas skew so wildly. And it’s not just their power numbers, either. Consider the following splits:

Hosmer road: slashing .336/.388/.496 (.312 TAv, 33rd-highest in baseball among batters with at least 150 plate appearances) with 80 hits, second most in baseball away from home.

Hosmer home: .289/.361/.505 (.292 TAv, 71st)

Moustakas road: .284/.319/.615 (.306 TAv, 46th); has hit 21 homers away from the K, second behind only Stanton.

Moustakas home: .280/.314/.517 (.284 TAv, 94th), despite a .237 ISO Power number that’s fairly respectable (53rd in MLB)

“Why that’s just this season!” comes the outrage. Another chart for your viewing pleasure?

TAv Hosmer Home (rank*) Hosmer Away (rank*) Moustaksas Home (rank*) Moustakas Away (rank*)
2016 .260 (108) .262 (95) N/A (hurt) N/A (hurt)
2015 .317 (23) .263 (83) .295 (47) .287 (42)
2014 .222 (140) .299 (34) N/A (not enough PA) .257 (98)
2013 .290 (57) .291 (44) .244 (122) .225 (140)
2012 .247 (123) .236 (132) .278 (87) .227 (134)
2011 .268 (93) .280 (58) Midyear callup Midyear callup

*–based on hitters with a minimum 250 plate appearances home or away.

Hosmer, especially, seems hampered by his surroundings—aside from one season (what happened there, 2015 Hosmer?), he’s consistently outperformed his home numbers away from the not so friendly confines. Moustakas has never been amazing by TAv standards prior to this season, but he’s steadily improved on his road numbers (he said furiously grasping for straws) and been better on the road than at home his last two healthy seasons.

So now you know why the ballpark won’t (isn’t? seems unfair to say won’t) work for two sluggers. Now look around them and consider that for two guys who make their bread by driving in runs—and you can call RBI an antiquated stat, but the fact is that the team that scores more wins more and a very negligible number of runs per season come in via walk, HBP, wild pitch, passed ball or balk—they get a pittance of the number of opportunities as some of their more well-known brethren.

This season, Moustakas has batted with 114 men in scoring position. Alex Gordon, who hits lower in the lineup (when he plays at all) has received 123 such chances and been largely terrible for all.

Hosmer has received more chances (145), but not at the rate you’d expect. Consider two other middle-of-the-order bats from the glut of AL teams around the Wild Card hunt in Nelson Cruz and Albert Pujols.

Cruz: 162 chances with RISP (99 on second, 63 on third)

Pujols: 163 chances with RISP (110 on second, 53 on third)

For a season, that’s a nothingburger of a statement. For his career, Hosmer has only enjoyed one season (2015) with top-10 run-producing chances (which, FYI, he delivered 75 OBI—other runs batted in aside from himself—eighth most in baseball) and two others in the top-25 (2016, 2013). Oh, and he still managed another top-10 OBI mark in 2016, despite less chances than Xander Bogaerts, Mike Napoli and others who enjoyed more opportunities.

Let’s put this another way: switch Hosmer with Brandon Belt a year ago and maybe #EvenYearMagic carries on for the San Francisco Giants. Belt got 224 chances with runners on second or third and produced 50 RBI; Hosmer produced 15 more RBI with a dozen fewer chances.

And lest we forget Moustakas, he’s never enjoyed a year even sniffing the top-25 with runners on second or third.

Moustakas and Hosmer have rings, a couple of All-Star appearances (not enough for Hosmer, IMO) and are set to cash in this offseason. The financial implications are obvious; less so would be the advantages of seeking new accommodations. With a few more prime years remaining, blink and you could see both enjoying late-career surges in friendly situations that lead to more rings, more All-Star appearances and [adjusts reading spectacles] potential Hall of Fame inductions even?

Money is not the only reason Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer could elect to move on after 2017. A new home address might benefit both purely from a baseball perspective. And similar to money, there’s not much the Royals can do to make that more palatable for either.

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