In May of 2011 the Kansas City Royals made a move to the future, promoting Eric Hosmer to the big leagues. Other talented prospects debuted earlier in the season and others would be brought up after Hosmer, but there is no doubt that the Royals envision building a division winning offense centered around the young 1st baseman.
At the major league level the Royals finished 10th in the majors in runs scored during 2011 and hit for a high average, .275 total, good for 4th in baseball. Billy Butler is 25, should be about to enter his prime, and has hit for an OPS+ over 125 for 3 years running. Alex Gordon had a breakthrough year in 2011, picking up low ballot MVP votes as well as a gold glove, and showing why he was the 2nd overall pick in 2005. Eric Hosmer may be the most talented of the lot and was able to produce a 118 OPS+, solidly above the league average of 100, while provide solid power with his bat, hitting 18 homers in 128 games. Young offensive talent is all over the field in Kansas City and there is more on the way.
Lorenzo Cain, who was acquired in the Zack Greinke trade, will more than likely take over for the departed Melky Cabrera in centerfield. Cain didn’t play much in 2011 at the big league level but raked in the minors hitting, .306 with 15 homeruns in 111 games at AAA. Mike Moustakas saw 89 major league games last season hitting very well down the stretch including a .352/.380/.580 in the final month. He will start the 2012 season at 3rd base and with second year players Johnny Giavotella at 2nd, Alcides Escobar at short, and Salvador Perez slated to start at catcher the Royals will have the youngest infield in the majors(average age of 22.5). But how much will they improve.
The potential lineup listed online at the Royals website looks something like this:
That lineup will score runs, especially if Hosmer can take off in the way other strong hitting 1st basemen have. Hosmer compares favorably to another power hitting lefty in the heartland, Cincy’s Joey Votto. Votto produced a slightly better OPS+ in his rookie year and exhibited a bit more power but there is no reason Hosmer couldn’t be a Votto-lite. Coupled with Billy Butler’s steady on-base presence, Hosmer could produce quite a few wins and MVP votes for the Royals over the next couple of seasons.