Team USA made a big mistake selecting Eric Hosmer to replace Mark Teixeira at first base for the World Baseball Classic.
Instead, the Americans should have replaced Teixeira with a like-minded defensive first baseman. Somebody like Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves.
Now, some people will call me a homer because I am a featured columnist for the Braves, but the facts are clear.
Hosmer isn't exactly the greatest defensive first baseman in baseball, or offensive for that matter. In fact, he's far from it.
Freeman, on the other hand, is one of the best defensive first basemen in all of baseball and has power at the plate as well.
He might not have the same type of power that Teixeira has, but neither does Hosmer.
Most Team USA fans would have preferred Prince Fielder to have filled in at first base.
However, Fielder said even if asked, he would decline the invitation.
While it seems Freeman was never considered, I believe it's a major mistake on Team USA's part.
The book on Hosmer
Last year, Hosmer had a -1.5 defensive wins above replacement, while 2011 saw him have a -1.7 dWAR.
At the plate, he batted .232 with 14 home runs and 60 RBI. He had an on-base percentage of .304 and a slugging percentage of .359.
Some people will say Hosmer just had a slump in his sophomore campaign after batting .293 with 19 home runs and 78 RBI in his rookie year.
While slumps do happen, Hosmer showed he was unable to make the adjustments needed in 2012. Pitchers adjusted to him. He didn't adjust to them.
Regarded as one of the top prospects in the game before coming to the big leagues, Hosmer has regressed. He isn't the player people thought he would be.
Not to mention he comes from a franchise that doesn't ask him to do the little things.
Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon said he noticed it with newly-acquired top prospect Wil Myers.
Maddon was careful to not criticize the Royals' development of Myers, but he said there's a tendency industrywide "to overlook things" with elite prospects.
If Team USA is going to have a chance to be the likes of Japan or Cuba, they're going to have to do the little things right.
The book on Freeman
Freeman has as good of a glove as, if not better than, Teixeira at first. His ability to dig out balls in the dirt has saved many Braves infielders from errors.
At the plate, Freeman hit .259 with 23 home runs and 94 RBI. He also had a .340 on-base percentage and a .456 slugging percentage.
Let's not forget Freeman has the ability to hit to all fields.
Also worth looking at are Freeman's stats at Chase Field, where the pool round will be played. Freeman batted .456 with two home runs and nine RBI in 15 at-bats in the Diamondbacks' home park.
A better option
While Freeman wouldn't have been the best option to replace Teixeira, he would have been an upgrade over Hosmer.
The Kansas City first baseman hasn't shown he's worthy of representing Team USA.
While most would have preferred Fielder, it wasn't going to happen.
So, one of the next best options would have been Freeman. Not Hosmer.
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