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For the Cardinal Fans Who Want Eric Hosmer

Eric Hosmer Kieth Allison/ via Flickr.com


For the Cardinal Fans Who Want Eric Hosmer

Eric Hosmer has been the topic of a lot of debate lately, amongst Cardinal fans.  Likely arising because of the I-70 series.  Hosmer, 27, will be an unrestricted free agent, this offseason, and will likely demand $80 million plus, over 5+ years.  However, many Cards fans still want Mozeliak, and the front office, to sign him to take Carpenter’s spot, at first base.  These Cardinal fans are wrong.  Eric Hosmer is not a better option than Carp, and the numbers are there to prove it.

Sabermetrics and Traditional Stats

Sabermetrics are used throughout baseball, by every front office, to determine a players value.  Which is why they will be used, for the argument of Carpenter over Hosmer.  Traditional stats have their usefulness as well, but not necessarily here.  Although, in case you are wondering, here is each player’s slash line, for their career.  Carpenter, going into Wednesday night’s game, has a slash of .280/.377/.462.  Hosmer’s is .281/.339/.436.  Even just looking at those stats, you can see Carp’s value over Hosmer, but, a deeper look will provide even more proof.  Now, back to the sabermetrics.  Since not everyone is familiar with what they mean, I will explain them here.  To compare the players, I will use wRC+, wRAA, wOBA, OPS+, and WAR.


Most people should be familiar with WAR, wins above replacement, so I will not get into it too much.  WAR simply means, how many more wins will this player create, than an average minor league, or bench replacement.  WAR is widely accepted as the best statistic for comparing player value and is compiled over their career.


wRC+, stands for Weighted Runs Created Plus.  It is used to measure how many runs a player creates, above or below league average.  It is park and league-adjusted, meaning the averages for ball parks and leagues are taken into account.  League average is set at 100, for wRC+.  Every point above or below 100, is a percentage point above or below league average, respectively.  For example, a wRC+ of 120, is 20% better than the league average, and a wRC+ of 80, is 20% worse.  The higher the wRC+, the better.


Like wRC+, wRAA, or Weighted Runs Above Average, is a measure of how many runs a player contributes to his team, with league averages set to zero.  Like RBI, wRAA is a counting statistic.  This means that the more a player plays, the more runs he gains or does not gain.  Again, the higher the number, the better.


Weighted On Base Average is like the offensive WAR, in that, it is a popular catch-all statistic, for determining a player’s offensive value.  On-base percentage, slugging percentage, and on-base plus slugging percentage, are all similar to wOBA, because they give a different value to different ways of reaching base.  However, wOBA gives more accurate values to different hits, unintentional walks, and hit by pitch.  Which, in turn, makes it more accurate than those traditional stats, for determining a players offensive contributions.


Finally OPS+, or On-base Plus Slugging Percentage Plus, is not as popular as the other metrics mentioned, but is a more accurate statistic than regular OPS.  It accounts for park affects, and other things that affect a player’s OPS.  League average for OPS+ is also set at 100, and every point above or below is a percentage better or worse.

Matt Carpenter vs. Eric Hosmer

Now that you understand, or at lease have an idea about, the stats I will use to compare the two players, here are their numbers.  Matt Carpenter has arguably been the Cardinals’ best hitter since 2013, and for good reason.  He began his career in 2011, like Eric Hosmer.  However, Carp only played seven games that year, to Hosmer’s 128.  Altogether, Carpenter has played 173 fewer games than Hosmer, making some of his stats that much more impressive.

In 825 games, Carpenter has a WAR of 19.8 and 137.2 wRAA.  Hosmer has a WAR of 13 and has 66.4 wRAA, in 998 games.  As mentioned before, these are both compiled stats.  Which means, Hosmer has had 173 more chances to add to his WAR and wRAA, and is still 6.8 wins above replacement behind Carp, and has an impressive 70.8 fewer wRAA.

As for the stats based on averages, Carpenter still has the edge, and it is not really close. Carpenter’s wRC+ is 131, 31 percent above average, and Hosmer’s is 109, that is a 22 percent difference.  Carp has a wOBA of .364, to Hosmer’s .335, and an OPS+ of 128, while Hosmer sits at 109.


The numbers clearly favor Carpenter. So, now that that is out of the way, another important aspect is the player’s contract.  For argument’s sake, we will say that Hosmer is going to sign a 5 year, 80 million dollar deal.  That means he will average 16 million dollars a year. Carpenter is under control through 2020, on a 6 year, 52 million dollar contract, for an average salary of 8.6 million dollars.

The Verdict

Not only is Carp a better player, he costs half as much money, and is already under contract. Also, first base is the only position Carpenter plays, that does not hurt you defensively.  Coincidentally, that is Eric Hosmer’s only position.  So, if you would still rather have a player, that costs twice as much money, and is not nearly as valuable to the team, that is okay.  However, if you get your hopes up, you will, yet again, be disappointed this offseason.


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