Hosmer Feeling Home

Josh Kurzer uncovers the best hitters from Friday's games.

Yesterday provided us with our first full slate of MLB games since last September, and as much as I wanted to morph into my couch and watch baseball all day, I could not. I am coaching a 14-U travel team and we had a game at 6:00 last night. It was hard-fought but we fell just short in a 6-5 loss. After the game, I got home to enjoy the back half of the Friday slate and saw that if my team had a clutch bat like Eric Hosmer we certainly would have won our game.

Hosmer stepped to the dish with the bases loaded twice last night, and smoked bases-clearing doubles in both opportunities to break the game open for the San Diego Padres. Hosmer is a far cry from the All-Star he was in Kansas City, but his Opening Day performance shows he clearly still has some gas left in the tank. Before joining the Padres in 2018, Hosmer played all 162 games and hit .318 with Kansas City in 2017, and made the All-Star team the season prior.

After moving to San Diego, Hosmer had his worst statistical season in 2018, batting just .253 and slugging .398. In 2019, Hosmer struck out in nearly 25% of his at-bats and held a walk rate of just 6%, both career worsts. Hosmer will look to see more pitches and put the ball in play more this season, as he did last night, where he finished  3-4, 2 2B, 6 RBI. If Hosmer can limit strikeouts and continue to hit the ball hard, he may return value as a late round flier at first base.

Max Muncy (1B/2B/3B,  L.A. Dodgers) — 3-4, 3 R, 2 HR, 2B, 2 RBI, BB. Thanks to his multi-home run performance last night, Dodgers first baseman Max Muncy has become the first player to be included in back-to-back recaps this season. In yesterday’s piece, author Scott Chu suggested that Muncy’s “power might be here sooner rather than later,” and indeed it was. Muncy opened the scoring by muscling an outside fastball to right in the first inning for a solo shot, and took a similar pitch the other way over the left center wall in the sixth.

Mike Moustakas (2B/3B, Cincinnati Reds) — 3-4, R, HR, 4 RBI. The second ex-Royal to make today’s column, Moustakas had a dazzling debut for the Reds last night. The veteran infielder picked up three RBI in his team’s win, including a home run. Despite his strikeout rate increasing and walk rate decreasing in 2019, Moustakas’ barrel rate was a career best 10.3%. This indicates that Moustakas still has solid pop in his bat and should be a productive member of the Cincinnati offense going forward.

Matt Olson (3B, Oakland Athletics) — 2-4, R, HR, 4 RBI, BB. Olson was part of the final game on the Opening Day schedule, and he finished it in grand style. The Angels and Athletics gave us our first test of the new extra-inning rules, in which each inning will begin with a runner on second base. After a hit batter and a walk, Olson stepped to the plate with a chance to win the game. All he needed to do to win the game was put a ball in the air and he wasted no time, depositing a first pitch hanger into the right field seats for a walk-off grand slam.

Ramon Laureano (OF, Oakland Athletics) — 2-3, 3 R, HR, 2 RBI. Laureano is known for his cannon in the outfield, but it was his bat that got it done for the A’s last night. Laureano tied the game twice last night. First he drew the game even at 1 with a solo home run in the fourth inning, then tied the game at 2 with an RBI single in the eighth. He also crossed home on Olson’s walk-off salami.

Jose Peraza (2B, Boston Red Sox) — 4-5, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2B. The Red Sox trounced the Orioles 13-2 last night, and got contributions from all parts of the lineup. Boston’s best hitter was its ninth batter, Jose Peraza, who picked up four hits in his team debut. Peraza comes over from Cincinnati, where he struggled a bit last year. The Red Sox hope is for him to find his 2018 form, a year in which he hit .288.

Jackie Bradley Jr. (OF, Boston Red Sox) — 3-4, 3 R, 2 RBI, 2 2B. Bradley and Peraza hit eighth and ninth for Boston last night, and they buoyed the lineup at the bottom of the order. Bradley Jr. doubled twice and singled, scoring all three times he reached base. With the departure of Mookie Betts, Bradley needs to take a step forward at the plate this season, and last night was a positive sign for Red Sox fans.

Max Kepler (OF, Minnesota Twins) — 2-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI. The Minnesota outfielder joined Max Muncy as the only other player to hit multiple home runs on Opening Day, with two solo shots in a 10-5 win over the White Sox. Kepler’s bat was a major factor for the Twins in 2019, a season in which they set the MLB record for most home runs by a team in one season with 307. Kepler was responsible for 36 of those last season and got off on the right foot this year with two last night.

Yoan Moncada (2B/3B, Chicago White Sox) — 3-5, R, HR, 2B, 3 RBI. After three sub-par seasons in the MLB, once highly-touted prospect Yoan Moncada broke out in 2019 with a .315 batting average and 25 home runs. Moncada carried last year’s momentum over to last night by picking up three hits and falling a triple shy of the cycle. Chicago is one of the more exciting teams in the league this year, and in a tough division where they will be battling Cleveland and Minnesota for a playoff spot, the White Sox will likely go as far as Moncada’s bat takes them.

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