Catalyst Hosmer captures All-Star Game MVP

Royals skipper Yost proud to see first baseman help secure WS home-field for AL

July 13th, 2016

SAN DIEGO -- Lest anyone forget who won the individual honor at last year's Fall Classic, that information is readily available on the underside of Salvador Perez's right arm, beneath the more audacious tat of the Royals' World Series champions logo. Three capital letters are emblazoned in black ink: "MVP."
So when Eric Hosmer returned to the American League clubhouse after earning his own esteemed individual honor -- the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet at Tuesday night's 4-2 victory for the AL in the All-Star Game presented by MasterCard -- he looked at his buddy a couple lockers down and pointed to his own arm.
• Royal feat: Hosmer, Salvy homer in AL's win
"I need my tattoo now!" Hosmer said with a laugh.
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Perez warned not to hold Hos to any ink expectations ("That's for me," Perez said. "I'm the crazy one"). But by now, to expect these Royals to step up on the big stage is not crazy at all.
On this night, Hosmer and Perez combined to drive in every run for the AL -- a Royal rumble that once again equipped the AL with the home-field edge that Kansas City used to its advantage last October.
It began with a second-inning outburst against former friend and newfound foe Johnny Cueto. Hosmer, a first-time All-Star selection, ripped the third pitch he saw -- a 1-1 cutter -- to the opposite-field seats for a solo shot that tied the game at 1. He was the first Royals player to hit a home run in the All-Star Game since Bo Jackson (who, for the record, also won the MVP) in 1989.

And then, after Mookie Betts singled, Perez came to the plate against Cueto and smacked a 1-1 sinker out to left to give the AL a 3-1 edge. That made Perez the first Royals player to hit a home run in an All-Star Game since, well, you know. And it made Hosmer and Perez the eighth pair of teammates to homer in the same Midsummer Classic.

Really, either Royal could have won the MVP. But Hosmer sealed his selection with an RBI single in the third to push the lead to 4-1. And by the time Kelvin Herrera ushered in the onslaught of relief weapons Ned Yost had assembled in the sixth, with the AL up, 4-2, the Junior Circuit's fourth straight All-Star triumph was all but assured.
Point is, Kansas City's imprint was all over this one.

"I felt like a proud papa there in the second inning after those two guys gave us the lead," Yost said. "It's been a long time since I've been that proud of two players in a moment like that."
Speaking of proud papas, there was Hos' dad, Mike, a retired firefighter who will reap the automotive accoutrement to his son's big win -- a midnight black Chevy truck.

"So he can stop stealing all my cars," Eric Hosmer joked.
In a more serious moment, Hosmer reflected on his father instilling in him the work ethic he's used to become one of the game's elite first basemen. Hosmer is still 103 days shy of his 27th birthday, and he's already won three Rawlings Gold Glove Awards, a World Series and now that beautiful glass bat. This is a player the Royals felt, going into 2016, was still capable of reaching an even higher offensive ceiling, and he's showing that in a year in which his homer-to-fly ball rate has risen substantially (from 15.1 percent in '15, which had been a career high, to 20.3 percent), putting him on pace for his first 20-homer campaign.

"He's got unbelievable talent, man," future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera said. "He's one of the best first basemen in the game. He's winning Gold Gloves every year, he's had a tremendous season offensively. He showed today."
The fans showed up for Hos in the All-Star voting to get him the starting spot over Miggy, but Hos was going to end up in this game regardless. Yost reflected on the agonizing decision he faced with last year's Final Vote candidates, when he had to leave Hosmer off of that ballot after he didn't make the AL squad.
"We had eight All-Stars last year," Yost said, "and it was really, really hard not to put him in that Final Vote. Cabrera had won the [fan] vote, and [Mark] Teixeira had better numbers than [Hosmer] did. I knew [Mike Moustakas'] mom was really sick, and I wanted to have her see Moose play in an All-Star Game, and that left Hos out in the cold."

It didn't take Hosmer long to warm to the All-Star stage.
"I just told myself, with Cueto, to be ready for the quick pitch, and I was just going to swing and let it loose and have some fun," Hosmer said. "I just wanted to be aggressive, go up there, see a couple of pitches, let my nerves soak in and take it from there."
Kansas City's offense took this one home for the AL. And remarkably, the club that hit two home runs in five World Series games last year provided two home runs from just two players in this single-game exhibition.
"We just tried to do the best we can do," Perez said. "We play hard."

The bat Hosmer used for his hard-hit homer (the Statcast-measured exit velo was 110 mph, for those scoring at home) was donated to the Hall of Fame, which already has in its collection the dirty jersey Hosmer wore when he slid into home with the tying run in the ninth inning of last fall's Game 5 clincher at Citi Field.

So in the MVP hardware he hoisted, the bat that is Cooperstown-bound and the truck that will be delivered to his dad, reminders of Hosmer's awesome All-Star experience on a night the Royals -- and, by extension, the AL -- once again reigned supreme will be everywhere.
Maybe he doesn't need that tattoo, after all.