How Long Is Eddie Rosario's Leash?
Image courtesy of Brad Rempel, USA TodayOn the Gleeman & the Geek podcast a few weeks ago, Aaron cited a rather remarkable stat. Among all left fielders in the history of baseball who've made 1,000 plate appearances, Rosario's career on-base percentage (.296) ranks dead last.
He has had the worst strike zone control of any player in the majors since arriving, with his 0.15 BB/K ratio ranking 185th out of 185 qualified players over the past three seasons. He lets his aggressiveness get the best of him at the plate, just as it does in the field, canceling out raw ability that too rarely shines through. The habits we expected Rosario to outgrow linger on, at age 25 and coming up on his 300th MLB game.
He has been an altogether consistent hitter over the course of his up-and-down time in the bigs, with all the hot streaks and slumps adding up to roughly the same OPS every year (.742 career, .771 in 2017). That production would be perfectly fine from someone like Byron Buxton, who adds immense value on defense, but Rosario is a far cry. He plays a position with higher offensive expectations and he hasn't been playing it all that well.
While defensive metrics love Buxton, they don't look so kindly upon Rosario, who rates negatively by both UZR and DRS. The small sample caveat obviously applies, but I don't think anyone who's watched him in left regularly would disagree.
Now, this bears noting: Rosario is presently a year younger – and 200 plate appearances shy – of where Aaron Hicks was entering this season. Too many times we have seen a hopeless case suddenly flip on the light bulb, and with his electric ability Rosario would shine brighter than most if he could find the switch. He is a tremendous athlete. He hit three home runs in a game less than 10 days ago. His competitive fire would be refreshing and entertaining if it didn't so often burn him, and the team.
Is he starting to feel the heat? The microscope is magnifying with a higher power lens with Zack Granite making serious noise at Class-AAA Rochester. The Twins 2016 Minor League Player of the Year is batting .349/.402/.479 for the Red Wings, with a .478 average in the month of June. A scrappy and speedy center fielder known for his high baseball IQ, he is an enticing option, albeit one with a far lower ceiling than Rosario.
The big-picture play is to let things ride. Keep hoping it finally clicks for Rosario and let Granite continue to tear it up, maybe come up late in the year to get his feet wet as a fifth outfielder. But Molitor's fading club needs a spark, and the manager is undoubtedly exasperated with watching his blunderous left fielder hurt an already overmatched pitching staff.
Swapping Rosario for Granite would certainly send a message. Are the Twins, whose deadline approach will be dictated by the next four weeks, ready to send it?
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