Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Has Eddie Rosario Stagnated Or Is There Still Reason To Believe?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The Twins’ Eddie Rosario has always been viewed as an intriguing upside option, but four years into his MLB career should we still see him that way?  The fact is that he stagnated in 2018, making you think that perhaps this is his ceiling:

559 At Bats
.288 Batting Average (161 Hits)
24 Home Runs
77 RBI
87 Runs
8 Stolen Bases
.323 On Base Percentage
.479 Slugging Percentage
.316 Batting Average on Balls in Play

Obviously there’s nothing wrong with those numbers, but do they represent a “difference maker”?  If there’s no growth potential, is there a reason to target him?

The first issue, and it’s a significant one, is his plate discipline.  Last season he struggled with a 12.7% SwStr% and consistently was chasing outside the strike zone (42.9% O-Swing%).  While it didn’t lead to strikeout issues (17.6%), there’s obviously the risk that the number inflates to go along with a poor walk rate (5.1%).  The fact that he swung and missed against all types of pitches just adds to the concern (Whiff%):

  • Hard – 12.79%
  • Breaking Ball – 14.37%
  • Offspeed – 14.50%

That alone casts a shadow of doubt on his average, but seeing his fly ball rate (37.4% to 44.1%) and Pull% (39.3% to 43.4%) jump even higher adds to the concern.  Both of those numbers seem to represent an attempt to hit for more power, despite not seeing more home runs.  That represents a risk of a regression in his BABIP, despite a 36.5% Hard%, and means that it wouldn’t be shocking to see him hit .260 or worse if they continue.

Maybe those adjustments lead to a little bit more power and he does have a little bit of speed, so the potential for a 30/10 player is going to hold value.  In fact there were only 10 players in 2018 who reached those levels, but that’s also taking the stance that there is a little bit more thunder in the now 27-year old’s bat.  It’s definitely possible as he slumped badly in the second half (7.9% HR/FB), especially with a minimal improvement against left-handed pitchers (SLG):

  • RHP – .509 (20 HR)
  • LHP – .415 (4 HR)

So what’s the bottom line?  There’s a risk/reward to an investment in Rosario, but you wouldn’t expect the cost to be exorbitant.  Just some small adjustments in his approach should lead to strong average (think .270+) that he can sustain and there’s a good chance that he sees his power take a small step forward.  Put those two things together, especially as a 27-year old, and there’s every reason to believe heading into 2019.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

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Make sure to check out all of our 2019 projections:

Player
Date Posted
Dylan Bundy10/22/18
Foltynewicz, Mike10/09/18
Gibson, Kyle10/29/18
Hoskins, Rhys10/16/18
Hosmer, Eric11/05/18
Wheeler, Zack10/02/18

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