I couldn’t imagine being a professional baseball writer this year. As I sat down to begin writing this post, I quickly realized there’s simply no way to do the last week of baseball any justice. We’re not even all the way through the first round of competition, and this has already been my favorite postseason in recent memory. Thomas Aquinas once said, “Because philosophy arises form awe, a philosopher is bound in his way to be a lover of myths and poetic fables. Poets and philosophers are alike in being big with wonder.” It’s wonder which fertilizes the soil from which philosophy and art grow, and this autumnal baseballing postseason has been nothing if not a giant pile of manure. The word “manure” typically has negative implications, but being a reformed writer as myself, I am not bound by any preconceived societal notions of appropriate diction, and thus I may choose to cut my own path through the thicket of the English language, violently mixing metaphors and misusing imagery along the way. In this post, I am using the word “manure” both to refer back to “wonder”- implying that the past week has been full of said wonder, leaving a bountiful harvest of poetry and philosophy to feast upon- and to explain how this postseason has done nothing but drop trou on all of our silly ideas about how these games should have happened. While I’d love to discuss the two sweeps, Clayton Kershaw’s metldown, Mike Trout’s complete futility, and Bryce Harper’s gloriously furious swing, this space is for acknowledging a Player of the Week, and that’s what I must do. However, if you would like to see recaps of all the excitement, I recommend Ben Lindbergh’s post on Grantland.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
After all of my original picks for this postseason were eliminated, I had to make a decision on which of the remaining teams I would cheer for. Luckily for me, the Kansas City Royals couldn’t have made my decision any easier. They started their postseason by providing us with one of the greatest games in the history of the sport, then followed it up with an exciting sweep of the $155 Million Los Angeles Angels. While there’s certainly many reasons for their continued success- James Shields’ pitching, Lorenzo Cain’s defense, Billy Butler’s baserunning- one player in particular has stood out from the rest.
Over his career, Eric Hosmer has hit for a .275 average, a .328 on base percentage, and a .418 slugging percentage. Over his 19 plate appearances in the 2014 postseason, he is hitting .500/.632/1.143. Only Brandon Moss, Matt Carpenter, and AJ Ellis have a higher postseason OPS, but they each have less than half as many plate appearances as Hosmer.
It hasn’t been due to simply one good game, either. In fact, he’s been the key contributor in three of the Royals’ four victories. It was his triple in the bottom of the 12th inning that set the stage for their dramatic comeback against the Athletics. It was his homerun in the top of the 11th that gave them the go-ahead runs needed in their second late inning win against the Angels. And it was his 2 run homerun in yesterday’s game that secured the sweep by putting the game out of reach for the Angels.
Is he going to keep this up? Probably not. Don’t let yourself be fooled: “clutch” and “hot hand” are no way to predict future performance, and he’s still nothing more than an average hitter. But for one exciting week he stood above the MVPs, Silver Sluggers, and Cy Young winners to earn his place as our Player of the Week.