May 5, 2011
Transaction Analysis Blog
It’s difficult to tell what the future holds for Ka’aihue as he enters an awkward stage of his career. He now has more than 300 major league plate appearances and a slash line of .216/.309/.375 to show for it. Granted, those plate appearances do stretch across parts of three seasons and four years, but the numbers conflict with his Triple-A offerings of .285/.424/.521. Perhaps Ka’aihue, now 27, possesses a skill set that is more advantageous in Triple-A than the majors. His selectivity leads to better hitting counts against weaker pitchers, thus allowing him to sit on fastballs and drive when he gets one.
Even so, it’s difficult to believe he is truly this bad of a major league player. What Ka’aihue may need is a change of scenery. Not for the qualitative aspects—confidence boosting, mechanical adjusting, and what have you—but so he can receive a full season of playing time without looking over his shoulder at a top prospect or two attempting to take his job. Maybe the Royals should have given him that opportunity before, but no longer is that their burden.
What is their burden is managing the 21-year-old Hosmer’s development. Hosmer has a month of Triple-A experience, but hit .439/.525/.582 and showed enough observationally for the Royals to deem him ready for action. It’s often said that Double-A is the real task for prospects, and Hosmer dismantled the competition last season as well, hitting .313/.365/.615 in 211 plate appearances. PECOTA’s weighted mean has Hosmer hitting .274/.329/.443 in the majors this season.
Do note that Hosmer’s promotion comes before the Super Two deadline. Their decision not to wait can be looked upon as hasty and impatient or bold and invigorating. Down the road, the Royals are probably going to pay for the decision in the most literal of senses, but for now, the Royals are in second place and one of the best prospects in baseball is now manning first base for them—cost be damned. Say what you want about where their minds are, but their heart is in the right place.
For the fantasy perspective on Hosmer, make sure to check out Marc Normandin’s most recent take on him, and for a scouting report, Kevin Goldstein’s ranking of the Royals prospects as well as his placement amongst the Top 101.