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Not So Fast: Is Eddie Rosario Already Losing a Step?

Eddie Rosario had a huge breakout year in 2017, posting career highs in virtually every offensive category, but he also saw his defensive and base running metrics take a dip for the second-straight season. Is it possible we’re already seeing the decline of Rosario’s athleticism, or could there be something else going on?
Image courtesy of Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
When Rosario came up to the big leagues in 2015, he was raw as a hitter but both his speed and defense stood out. Fast forward two years, and it appears Rosario has turned a complete 180. Here is Rosario’s three-year trend in sprint speed, UZR/150 and BsR. Everything is trending the wrong direction.
Attached Image: RosarioTrend.JPG
In terms of sprint speed, Rosario has gone from the 32nd-fastest player in baseball in 2015 to 150th last season. That’s a drop from comfortably inside the top 10 percent to outside the upper third of all players. He’s lost exactly one foot per second on average over the past two seasons, which can be a huge difference when you’re tracking down fly balls in the outfield.

Below is a look at Rosario’s sprint speed the past three seasons compared to some of his teammates. He went from easily being the second-fastest player in this group to slipping down to fourth.
Attached Image: TwinsGraph.JPG
And here’s a look at Rosario’s numbers in relation to a handful of other players around his same age.
Attached Image: MLBSpeed.JPG
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.

What do you make of Rosario’s defensive and base running declines?

Related:
Minnesota’s Base Running Resurgence
Eddie Rosario And The Battle For Plate Discipline

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43 Comments

Great stuff

 

A. Got to be mentioned that, on the other hand, Rosario had a career high on every single offensive measurement.

 

B. Three data points is a very small sample size.Would love to see monthly averages instead of seasonal.That will tell you whether he had months that dragged his seasonal performance down.For sure the first half he had more ground balls than fly balls (1.5x), a trend reversed the second half, and I wonder whether that had something to do with it.

 

C. would love to see where the other Twins' OFs (Kepler & Grossman) are in the same principles.

    • Oldgoat_MN, nytwinsfan, HitInAPinch and 1 other like this

Me thinks somebody needs to check Eddie's birth certificate.Might be 36 and not 26.

    • hybridbear, caninatl04 and Original Whizzinator like this
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Hosken Bombo Disco
Jan 16 2018 06:22 PM
Counterpoint: Rosario is learning to "play within himself," defining that vague phrase however you want :)
    • howieramone2 likes this
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Tom Froemming
Jan 16 2018 06:24 PM

 

C. would love to see where the other Twins' OFs (Kepler & Grossman) are in the same principles.

2017 sprint speed
28.2 Kepler
28.1 Grossman
27.7 Rosario

 

2017 UZR/150 (all outfield positions combined)
0.8 Kepler
-0.1 Rosario
-9.3 Grossamn

 

2017 BsR
3.1 Kepler
0.1 Grossman
-0.6 Rosario

    • Thrylos, Oldgoat_MN, big dog and 2 others like this
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theBOMisthebomb
Jan 16 2018 06:27 PM
We could get Souhan to write another hatchet job and investigate the eating habits of Rosario by using his insider's access. Or, possibly, these are typical fluctuations and Rosario hasn't really lost a step. The other players his age have also seen fluctuations, this is simply a statistical anomaly and Rosario will probably bounce back.
    • lecroy24fan, Shane Wahl and gagu like this

1.His sprint speed is still plenty fast. Aggressiveness is a possible explanation.  

 

2. I'm not a UZR Guy. I don't believe the story it tells is accurate. The Inclusion of UZR makes me not a WAR guy either. 

 

3. He used to be a Kamikaze base runner in his younger days. He might be getting smarter. 

 

 

 

    • Blake, big dog, Taildragger8791 and 5 others like this

I share a concern with Rosario's defense.I loved his rookie year and wonder what happened to the talents he displayed on that side of the baseball register. 

    • nytwinsfan likes this
He’s also got Byron Buxton for 137 games next to him in 2017, vs 92 and 44. No Oswaldo Arica or Danny Santana either, which has to help.

If he doesn’t “have” to get to everything, he might not push it quite so hard, so he can stay healthier throughout the season.

Man those outfields were bad!
    • Oldgoat_MN, Platoon, cmoss84 and 2 others like this
I'm not sure I can buy into these measurements a whole lot.

Sprint speed for example. How is that measured? A high water mark, or a composite of some arbitrary number of measurements? At what point do they measure? Again, the high water mark, or an average of the speed throughout that run, or some arbitrary point in time? Clearly, there's some flaw in something's meauring Grossman's sprint speed as an equivalent to Kepler's.

Also, I'm not sure sprint speed really has much bearing on Rosario's game. Given the nature of left field (playing close to the wall, playing angles/bounces), I just don't see speed as something that separates a good LF from a poor one. What are the league averages? We're seeing baseball trend towards speed and athleticism.

We're also seeing a trends if getting young talented players to the major sports faster (it seems, no data there). Every year, faster more athletic players are coming in at age 20-22, and the slow sluggers (Thome, Fielder, etc) are being phased out. Roasario may have been in the 98th percentile in 1990, and would be in the bottom quarter in 2028. I'm not sure the necessarily mean he isn't detrimentally slow. I just can't say his ranking drop in relation the league is alarmingly without more context/data.

When it comes to his arm, which a lot are taking issue with, I don't think the perception of a "drop off" is being adequately discounted for the luck factor. I'm guessing he had fewer "easy" opportunities (aka, tested frequently one year, and not the next after proving yourself). Accuracy can have luck involved (which side of the base you end up on in relation to the runner). Bounces can involve luck. Maybe based were overslid. Considering that there doesn't appear to be a huge regression in his arm strength, it's not something I can definitively say is a problem with Rosario and not a statistical anomole of some kind (on either end of the spectrum in each respective year).

I know the new thing is forcing data. We've arrived at this place where we think any number is better than nothing, and that's simply not he case. People love to throw stuff against the wall before it's properly vetted. Data can be skewed, and can create bad analysis/decision making. I'd like to see this played out longer.

Long story short, I'm not ready to say this isn't a statistical issue (sample size, skewed by outliers) or a measurement issue (flawed techniques, searching for patterns in an inadequate range of data, apples vs oranges, etc). I'm not ready to say Roasario can't play LF. I think we'll have a better idea as this upcoming season progresses.
    • Sconnie, tarheeltwinsfan, gagu and 1 other like this

UZR is not static for any ballplayer.

Let's just give Rosario the opportunity to hit more dingers in more playoff games, no?

 

His defensive drop off is a concern, but I'm sure the Twins see it and will work on it.

 

Maybe Rosario is being a bit lazy with Buxton over there and just needs a wake up call/some inspiration to play better.

    • Danchat, Sconnie and Original Whizzinator like this

Running speed is a skill as well as a talent. More focused stretching andspeed training could probably get him back to 2015 levels. Building muscle or running for distance can affect sprint speed.If speed is his priority he can probably improve. I'd like to see it but it is not as essential to his game as it is for Buxton.If Buxton slows down I get concerned.

    • Original Whizzinator likes this
Could it be that Eddie has put some sauce on his ribs. 10-15 lbs. can slow a fella down.

 

Clearly, there's some flaw in something's meauring Grossman's sprint speed as an equivalent to Kepler's.

 

Why?

    • Minny505 likes this
Why don't they just time them all in the 40, then we will know who is fastest and all?? Seems like these metrics for speed are very dependant on a lot of variables.. seems like speed would be speed if you just timed them all??
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Tom Froemming
Jan 17 2018 08:15 AM

 

I'm not sure I can buy into these measurements a whole lot.

Sprint speed for example. How is that measured? 

Sprint speed is measuring speed in terms of feet per second in a player's fastest one-second window. From a Mike Petriello article:

 

"Of course, there are so many plays where a runner is merely jogging to first after having popped up, or trots home easily from third base when a teammate doubles, and those non-competitive plays don't exactly tell us anything about speed, so we had to find a way to exclude those plays and include only plays where maximum effort could be expected.

 

To account for that, we took all batted balls (excluding over-the-fence home runs), and looked at plays where a runner or hitter attempted to advance two or more bases (excluding runners who started on second base and the batted ball was an extra-base hit, as they can often jog home). Of the remaining runs, we'll sort them from slowest to fastest, and take the average of the fastest half. If that sounds complicated, it needs to be, but the results are extremely satisfying."

 

I know the new thing is forcing data. We've arrived at this place where we think any number is better than nothing, and that's simply not he case. People love to throw stuff against the wall before it's properly vetted. Data can be skewed, and can create bad analysis/decision making. I'd like to see this played out longer.

Let's just forget the numbers for a second. In terms of your own evaluation/eye test, would you say Eddie's defense and base running has gotten worse the past two seasons? I would, and given his age, that doesn't make a lot of sense to me. So that's why I threw out the theory that he may have struggled through some injuries we were never made aware of.

 

There were multiple times in the game recaps where I'd point out Rosie taking a really inefficient route to a ball. Could that be because he was missing that top gear and didn't properly account for it when he initially broke to the ball? I think it's possible.

    • Oldgoat_MN, markos, Sconnie and 4 others like this
I don't think Rosario ever ran exceptional routes to a baseball. But what he did do was throw the ball with velocity and accuracy better than most. That certainly impacts the eye test in evaluating his defense. Some of those throwing opportunities are now gone, the extra base ones where there was a reasonable chance to get an out. Players seem to have quit taking the dare. One other question, or point. Did Rosario spend more time this year shuttling around the OF filling in for Kepler, or some time spent in CF? Or is that simply my perception.

 

I don't think Rosario ever ran exceptional routes to a baseball. But what he did do was throw the ball with velocity and accuracy better than most. That certainly impacts the eye test in evaluating his defense. Some of those throwing opportunities are now gone, the extra base ones where there was a reasonable chance to get an out. Players seem to have quit taking the dare. One other question, or point. Did Rosario spend more time this year shuttling around the OF filling in for Kepler, or some time spent in CF? Or is that simply my perception.

https://www.baseball...17-roster.shtml

 

It's your perception

 

2016 appeared to be the year he floated alot

 

           2017  20162015

Left     138    57     86

Center 10     37      4

Right      16     1         34

    • Minny505 and snap4birds like this

The fact that we have stats like this tells me we have too many stats.Eddie Rosario is a good baseball player who is still trying to get better.If anything, I feel like his attention to detail....routes, hitting cutoff men, throwing to the correct base, etc, are his biggest weakness on defense.His plate discipline has improved exponentially.On the bases, the decision making again is not always on point.  

Great article. All of the disagreements appear to be of the fake news variety. Don't like the data, so the data must be wrong, with no counter evidence offered. Nice work, Tom.
    • Tom Froemming likes this
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Matthew Lenz
Jan 17 2018 10:33 AM

 

 

Maybe Rosario is being a bit lazy with Buxton over there and just needs a wake up call/some inspiration to play better.

I think this is a very real possibility.

 

 

https://www.baseball...17-roster.shtml
 
It's your perception
 
2016 appeared to be the year he floated alot
 
           2017  20162015
Left     138    57     86
Center 10     37      4
Right      16     1         34

https://www.baseball...17-roster.shtml. Thanks. :)
 
It's your perception
 
2016 appeared to be the year he floated alot
 
           2017  20162015
Left     138    57     86
Center 10     37      4
Right      16     1         34

I'd be interested to see how much things like sprint speed fluctuate from year to year, but it's something that should be a little concerning. Unless Rosario starts taking better routes to the ball and tracking things better, a loss of high-end speed will end up hurting him.

 

Here's a question: would he be better off in RF? He's got the arm to play out there effectively and as I recall the alignment at Target Field makes LF a bigger space to cover than RF. Much as I like Kepler in RF, we may have to consider flip-flopping those two if Rosario can't get his giddyup back in gear.

 

If Rosario can make an incremental improvement on last year's offense while getting back some of his defensive value, he's going to be a real asset. If he slides back further on D or starts swinging at anything thrown in the vicinity of 1st Ave again, he's not going to have a lengthy career.

    • Mike Sixel and Minny505 like this

I'd gladly take a slight drop in sprint speed for 15-20lbs of bulk that turns those flyouts, doubles, and triples into homeruns.

 

Eddie's best attribute will always be his hands. I want some bulk behind those hands. Anything better than "below average" on defense, is a bonus, in my opinion

    • Sconnie likes this

Great article. All of the disagreements appear to be of the fake news variety. Don't like the data, so the data must be wrong, with no counter evidence offered. Nice work, Tom.

Agreed, it is a really good article. It seems like some of defensive metrics need additional data points, or context. It’s absolutely right to ask the question. Is Rosario losing a step?

Coming to a conclusion is tricky, and prescribing a solution, harder yet.

I don’t argue the data or questions posed by them, just looking for context.
    • gagu and Tom Froemming like this

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