Friday, August 28, 2015

Is Eddie Rosario, like, Good?

As you are probably aware, the Twins are fighting for a playoff spot while at the same time showing us a glimpse of their future with a whole lot of younger players up and making contributions.  One of these is Eddie Rosario, who has used a good mix of hitting, fielding, and base running to end up ranked 4th on the team in WAR.  You may now be asking yourself why I would question if he is, like, good in that case.  Well, unfortunately there are some red flags.  They might not necessarily mean much or call him out as a fluke, but there are some things to worry about.

Rosario has put up a slash line of .274/.296/.452 so far this season.  Two of those numbers are respectable, but that awful OBP is bad enough to drag his OPS down to almost exactly the league average.  That's his red flag #1 - horrendous strike zone management.

He has 87 strikeouts this season against just 11 walks, which is pretty staggering.  His walk rate of 3.2% is the 6th worst in baseball among batters with at least 300 plate appearances, while his strikeout rate of 25.1% is the 34th worst.  The spread of nearly 22 percentage points is monstrous.  I could only find a few instances of other players with a similar spread, and they were either slap hitters (Chris Owings) or only ended up with that kind of spread because they strike out an absolute ridiculous amount (Randal Grichuk).  The good news is that both his rates are worse than what he put up in his minor league career so although he's always going to be a free swinger these extremes may just be growing pains.

His swing rate is the worst on the team (outside of Oswaldo Arcia), but his contact rates are ok - not great, but ok.  Interestingly it turns out major league teams aren't dumb, because less than half the pitches he sees are inside the strike zone and his percentage is the lowest on the team other than Kennys Vargas and Jorge Polanco.  Basically teams are throwing him bad pitches, he's swinging at those pitches, and he's missing those pitches.  Until he reigns in his hacking a bit that'll continue, and although you can have success being a free swinger it's much more difficult when you aren't getting anything to hit.  Keep an eye on this.

His second red flag, although not as big of one in my opinion, is his BABIP of .347, a generally unsustainable number.  Unlike last year's fluke Danny Santana, however, it's not that huge of an outlier based on his past.  His minor league BABIPs were almost always over .300 and he put up a few seasons in the .350 range, so though .347 is probably high it's not ridiculously high.  His line drive percentage isn't great and he pops up too much, but he has an excellent hard hit percentage which can help account for a greater than it should be BABIP.

Overall, Rosario is going to be a quality player.  The value he adds with his defense alone makes him a plus player, and advanced metrics (and the eye test) mark him as an excellent fielder both in terms of range and arm.  He's fast and a good base runner (base runs mark him as 2nd on the team behind Brian Dozier at things like taking the extra base) and his stolen base mark should get better with more experience.  How good he's going to be is going to depend on his bat, and that's going to depend on learning a bit more plate discipline.  I think he'll adjust in Year 2+, and he's going to be a fixture in the outfield for a long time.

Or at least I hope.  Wow.  Optimism.  Feels weird.


rghrbek said...

Good blog. People are very high on Rosario, and I like the kid. My biggest concerns are his OB%, and swinging at pitches out of the zone. He reminds me a lot of Jaque Jones, maybe with better arm, and base running.

I am higher on Kepler for long term, since Keps cannot play first base for 3 more years. Lot's to be excited about with the young talent, lots to be pessimistic about with the same FO in charge of the teams future.

rghrbek said...

Some context from Gleeman:
Eddie Rosario has 1 walk and 43 strikeouts in his last 33 games. For the year he has 11 walks, 101 strikeouts, and a .286 OBP in 101 games.

That my friends is not good. Which means it can only get better, or it stays the same or worse. Again, we need to be skeptical and hopeful at the same time on Rosario. The kid can throw the leather around a bit...