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The Injury That Killed Eddie Rosario's 2019 Season

Eddie Rosario went from looking like an All-Star to being below average as the 2019 season progressed. What happened? Well, there's no denying Eddie wasn't the same guy after returning from a left ankle sprain last year.
Image courtesy of © Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Here's a look back at the ankle injury and some highlights that display how Rosario's athleticism and aggressiveness eluded him in the second half.



If it's not a convenient time for you to watch that video, here are some of the big takeaways:

◆ Rosario's performance prior to going on the injured list and his numbers from his return forward are like night and day.
Attached Image: Rosie19.png

◆ Defensively, his Outs Above Average dropped from +2 to -13 year over year and his jump vs. average went from +0.7 feet to -2.4 feet, per Baseball Savant. Both of those drops seem to be unusually large.

◆ Rosario's sprint speed went from being in the top 75.9% in 2018 to just the top 55.3% last year. Again, this feels like an abnormally large dip for one season under normal circumstances.

◆ Outside of anything related to the injury, the information below (via FanGraphs) suggests he's due to have better batted-ball luck in 2020. His BABIP has continued to decline despite his hard hit rate increasing every season
Attached Image: RosieGraph.png

Seth is currently down in Fort Myers (check out his latest report), and passed along this Rocco Baldelli quote from Friday regarding Rosario's health:

"I think he's running in a more stable manner. I think he's more confident in the way he's moving around, cutting, accelerating. He'd have to answer if — there's 95 percent, there's 98 percent, and then there's no thought in his head at all. I can't answer that for him. We're happy with the way he's moving around and he's been motivated and I think he's moving well. Really, that's all I can really tell you about it, but that was a fairly significant injury that he was playing with last year. I can't say that at any point during the regular season last year that he was 100 percent running around out there. I think the offseason was good to him. He seems good out there now."

This isn't the first time I've done a deep dive into these types of metrics for Rosario. Back in January of 2018, I wondered if Rosie was already losing a step, as the metrics were suggesting at the time. Here was my conclusion:

So what do we make of all of this? Well, the pessimistic approach would be to conclude that Rosario’s athleticism is already eroding. But he’s still only 26-years-old, so I find that a little hard to believe.

Is it possible that Rosario has played big parts of the past two seasons with undisclosed minor leg injuries that have sapped him of some of that speed? The only time Rosario has been on the DL was when he fractured his thumb in late 2016, but he’s surely played through a few scratches and strains.


Sure enough, Rosario had a bounce-back 2018 season in terms of sprint speed and UZR/150. Now that Eddie's 28-years-old, however, it is more realistic to think his athleticism has peaked. It'd be unrealistic to expect him to be as dynamic as he was when he first emerged with the Twins, but I won't be surprised to see significant gains in his running and fielding metrics once again in 2020.

Before we wrap up, I want to make sure to point out this is NOT my attempt to dunk on anyone who put out opinions or analysis that shed a negative light upon Rosario this winter.

The plate discipline and on-base percentage concerns are both completely legit and far from new. I'm just trying to point out there should be some attempt to account for his health when trying to analyze especially his fielding, running and general second half performance.

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15 Comments

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RaymondLuxuryYacht
Mar 01 2020 10:24 AM

A thoughtful article and well written but why would anyone think you were out to dunk on anyone who put out opinions or analysis that shed a negative light upon Rosario this winter?Seem like all opinions should be able to co-exist here and such a disclaimer should be unnecessary.

    • Dman likes this

Yep. Informative, but still balanced. Thanks. Eddie's got his issues, but it's not unreasonable to expect an uptick in performance in 2020. Could be important. As good as it looks, the lineup becomes very right-handed, especially in terms of power, if Rosario isn't functioning.

    • DocBauer and MN_ExPat like this
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MMMordabito
Mar 01 2020 10:54 AM
Great article ... It's fine if some get dunked on. There were way too many cast-off opinions of Rosario this off-season. Selling low would have been dumb just to make room for a prospect or the shadow of Kevin Pillar. Healthy Eddie should be out there every day, but there is no reason to ask or allow him to play injured with Gonzalez and Cave available.

I know the Twins won't be able to sign everyone, but Eddie shouldn't be immediately dismissed for not helping some achieve full SABR-gasm.
    • mikelink45, DocBauer, sftwinsfan and 2 others like this
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Twins_Fan_For_Life
Mar 01 2020 01:24 PM
Twins were so beat up in the Outfield they had to go acquire Ryan Lamarre in September just to finish the season. Imagine if Eddie had gone on the IL for 2 months, in favor of Darin Mastroianni, Rene Tosoni, or (insert your favorite replacement level outfielder from Minnesota's recent past). I for one would like to think Eddie for toughing it out and finishing the year.
    • DocBauer, tarheeltwinsfan, MN_ExPat and 2 others like this

I have zero analytical data to back this up, but from the eyeball test, it seemed like his plate discipline deteriorated over the second half of the season.Seemed like it had improved over the first half compared to past seasons.May or may not have been injury related, just saying....

I'd imagine Rosario is very motivated to have a big year since he has to know that Kirilloff/Larnach are a couple good months away from the majors. I really hope Eddie can have a bounce back season and be a main contributor on a deep playoff run.

    • tarheeltwinsfan and Richard Swerdlick like this

 

 


 I'm just trying to point out there should be some attempt to account for his health when trying to analyze especially his fielding, running and general second half performance.

 

 

 

Twins were so beat up in the Outfield they had to go acquire Ryan Lamarre in September just to finish the season. Imagine if Eddie had gone on the IL for 2 months, in favor of Darin Mastroianni, Rene Tosoni, or (insert your favorite replacement level outfielder from Minnesota's recent past). I for one would like to think Eddie for toughing it out and finishing the year.

 

Playing below ability while hurt is never a good thing. 

 

Rosario was 2nd in AB's post all-star break. LaMarre and Miller had 40 AB's total which were all in September to play primarily CF after Buxton and finally Kepler were hurt.  

 

Baldelli had options from June 26 to the Kepler injury on September 8. A little rest might have helped the ankle. 

 

Playing players who are hurt is a bad strategy.:)

 

 

    • glunn, Sconnie, Dman and 8 others like this
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JoshDungan1
Mar 01 2020 06:08 PM

I understand that a lot of professional sports still have the stupidly "macho" idea that you have to play through injuries or you aren't doing things the right way. It results in players playing well below average FAR too long and with negative impacts on the team they play for. Man I'm not sure there's anything I would wish for more than to have this idea die in yesteryear.

    • Riverbrian likes this
This supports everything I felt I saw the second half of the season. It just never seemed Rosario was the Rosario I/we were used to. Echoing statements shared Eddie is far from perfect, but healthy, he's a really nice, dangerous and productive player. Really hoping for a full year of health in 2020.
    • AceWrigley likes this

No doubt about the importance of speed to Rosy's game. He loves to toy with outfielders as he rounds first base, and when he's healthy, he catches up to fly balls on the sideline. Eddy with one less gear is not happy Eddie. 

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Dave The Dastardly
Mar 02 2020 09:04 AM

It's difficult for someone who has never suffered a serious ankle injury just how debilitating they can be; mentally as well as physically. As a former high school basketball, volleyball, track and football coach back in the days when head coaches were required to know something about human anatomy, kinesiology and treating sports injuries I taped many a sprained ankle. The thing is just about every athletic move you make, running, jumping, starting, stopping, swinging a bat, stooping to field a ball, requires putting stress on the ankles. And if an ankle has been injured, it hurts every time you make a move, sometimes for weeks after "recovery". After awhile you unconsciously start putting a little more weight on your good ankle and less on the injured ankle and that disrupts your balance, your footwork and your timing and your performance dips. And that affects you mentally because you're off your game and in the back of your mind you're constantly worried you're going to tweak the same injured ankle. That's when a head coach has to become a "head" coach.

 

The point I'm trying to make in my usual roundabout manner is that I can readily buy into the theory that Eddie's ankle injury was the cause for his performance drop-off last season but if the Twins training staff has worked on "head" coaching as well as

rehabilitating the injury I think we will see a rejuvenated Eddie in 2020.

    • glunn likes this
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Doctor Gast
Mar 02 2020 09:15 AM

Thanks for that insightful article, help gives us a promising outlook about Rosario. & I totally agree that Rosario needs to communicate any problems so he he can heal. We have players who can sub. I imagine he`s wearing some sort of ankle support. He probably needs one all season 

    • glunn and Sconnie like this

 

I have zero analytical data to back this up, but from the eyeball test, it seemed like his plate discipline deteriorated over the second half of the season.Seemed like it had improved over the first half compared to past seasons.May or may not have been injury related, just saying....

He did the same the season before. It’s more Eddie related than injury related. 

I think MLB should come up with a list of some kind, where injured players can be removed from the roster and placed, so that they don't have to play injured.
    • big dog, Sconnie and railmarshalljon like this

 

I think MLB should come up with a list of some kind, where injured players can be removed from the roster and placed, so that they don't have to play injured.

 

giphy.gif

    • Sconnie likes this