Early Report on Eddie Rosario's Plate Discipline
Image courtesy of © David Berding-USA TODAY SportsUp to this point in his career, Eddie Rosario has taken a lot of flack for being a free-swinger who bails out pitchers by swinging at pitches out of the zone. He would frequently find himself in pitcher’s counts, and consistently kill rallies by popping up the first pitch of an at-bat after the players in front of him would grind out long ones. In 2019, Eddie Rosario finished last on the Minnesota Twins after he saw just 3.51 pitches per plate appearance. By comparison, more patient hitters like Mitch Garver and Nelson Cruz saw 4.17 and 4.11 pitches per plate appearance respectively. Additionally in 2019, Rosario led the Twins in 1st pitch swing % (42.1%) as well as O-Swing% (46.3% of swings at pitches outside of the strike zone).
It became clear this offseason that his aggressiveness and free-swinging nature was something that Rosario wanted to work on. In a radio interview at Twins Fest, Rosario had a lot to say on the work that he was doing with his plate discipline. “Every bad number? I want to try to get better at it”, Rosario said. “Defense, walks, OPS, those are the numbers in the game right now that are bad for me. OK. I want to try to change that. That’s it.” Eddie continued on later in the interview to say, “I love being aggressive, but I love to help the team”. Manager Rocco Baldelli and new hitting coach Edgar Varela had surely been in Eddie’s ear this offseason, showing him the numbers, and how a little plate discipline could unlock a whole new part of Rosie’s game.
Early returns have given some reason for optimism that Eddie has made strides in the plate discipline mark. In Eddie’s first at bat of the 2020 season, Rosario took a 5 pitch walk off of White Sox ace, Lucas Giolito. Up to that point, Giolito had proven that his command was a bit off. He already had walked Josh Donaldson three batters before him and in general seemed frazzled after a rocky start. Rosario stayed disciplined and took all five pitches in the at-bat, laid off pitches outside the zone, and took a walk. One would have expected an aggressive Eddie to jump out of the gates swinging, but that wasn’t the case. Sure it’s just one walk, but that walk seemed to be a good representation of a potential new mindset for Eddie this season.
While that initial walk signaled a potential new mindset for Rosario, his numbers through the first five games of the season have borne out improved plate discipline for the Twins right fielder. Rosario has thus far shown improved numbers in pitches per plate appearance, first pitch strike %, O-Swing% and Chase %. Even just by the eye test, Eddie has appeared to show more restraint earlier in counts and has appeared to have a desire to take pitchers deeper in counts.
While the early numbers do show improved plate discipline for Rosario, small sample size is always the name of the game when we are tossing around stats through five games in a season. There is reason to believe that Eddie’s plate discipline numbers above might not tell the whole story. Eddie has only taken two unintentional walks, and his O-Swing% isn’t too far off of his career numbers.
Rosario became a very controversial figure withinTwins circles this offseason. Debates swirled regarding the importance of plate discipline and just how much Rosie's lack of that discipline could take away from his overall value as a hitter. For that reason, it will be important to keep a close eye on these numbers all season as the sample size grows larger and larger. Has Rosario done what he vowed to do at Twins Fest and sacrificed some aggressiveness in favor of helping the team? Or is regression in order, and Eddie will wind up just being the same ole’ Eddie? Only time will tell.
What have been your first impression of Eddie Rosario this season? Do you think that he has demonstrated improved plate discipline? What will be the biggest key to Rosario being more disciplined this year? Leave a comment below and start the conversation!
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