Twins 2019 Position Analysis: Left Field
Image courtesy of Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY SportsProjected Starter: Eddie Rosario
Likely Backup: Jake Cave
Depth: Marwin Gonzalez, Michael Reed, LaMonte Wade
Prospects: Brent Rooker, Akil Baddoo, Wade
Rosario is the reigning Twins Daily MVP. He followed up a breakout 2017 campaign with an extremely similar follow-up, albeit one that skidded to a halt before the finish line due to injury. At his peak last summer, Rosario was an unstoppable force, torturing opposing hurlers who had no answer for his relentless attack at the plate.
In early May, he hit six home runs over a 10-game stretch. We all remember the three-homer outburst one Sunday in June that culminated with a walk-off against Cleveland. When he's in those zones, Rosario is liable to drive any pitch, anywhere, out of the park. And his competitive confidence also manifests in other ways, from crazy defensive gems to game-changing plays on the bases.
The positives of Rosario's brazen aggressiveness have always been counterbalanced, somewhat, by the negatives. But last year, his gambles – at the plate, on the bases, in the outfield – seemed to pay off more than ever. And that's not coincidence. At age 27, with 500 major-league games under his belt, Rosario's at that perfect point where prime athleticism mixes with ample experience and seasoning.
With this in mind, it wouldn't be shocking to see Rosario take another step forward. He absolutely has the ability to put up a .300+ average with 30+ home runs. But even if he holds steady he's a quality bat for the middle of the lineup, as well as an energizing spark plug in all phases.
Should he miss time, the Twins are set up well with Cave and Gonzalez, who has spent more time in left field than any other position over the last two years. Reed is also in camp also a solid backup candidate, though he's out of options. In the event of a prolonged absence for Rosario, the Twins might want to consider giving Wade and his bountiful OBP a look.
Tough to find a lot of downside at this position. Rosario has had his bouts with strained muscles, battling a triceps issue last spring and a quad issue in the second half that eventually ended his season. He's not without injury risk, but leads the Twins in plate appearances over the past two years, so... not a huge consideration. And the Twins are well equipped with depth in that event.
Rosario is earning $4.19 million this year in his first turn at arbitration. He's under team control through 2021. At that point, if we get there without an extension or trade, any number of promising outfield prospects may have emerged as a logical successor.
THE BOTTOM LINE
For the present and foreseeable future, left field belongs to Eddie Rosario. The ferocious free-swinger brings palpable excitement along with his valuable contributions at the plate and in the field.
Like the last four positions we've covered, Gonzalez's addition provides a crucial depth boost here. But unlike the infield spots, the Twins have no shortage of additional options in the outfield corners, which is helpful since Gonzalez figures to be locked at third for at least the first month.
Twins 2019 Position Analysis: Catcher
Twins 2019 Position Analysis: First Base
Twins 2019 Position Analysis: Second Base
Twins 2019 Position Analysis: Third Base
Twins 2019 Position Analysis: Shortstop
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