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Front Page: Eddie Rosario's Actual Value Is an Offseason Sticking Point

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#1 Nick Nelson

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Posted 15 November 2019 - 12:43 AM

I shouldn't be surprised anymore. I really shouldn't.

Baseball's award voters have overemphasized traditional baseball-card numbers like wins and saves and RBIs as indicators of value since long before I was born. By no means should I have been shocked to see Eddie Rosario receive two eighth-place votes in the American League MVP balloting results, released on Thursday.

Still, I couldn't help but be taken aback. Maybe because I view this as a harbinger of what lies ahead for Rosario and the Twins this winter.I like Eddie Rosario. I consider myself a big fan. He is talented and electric and entertainingly brash. His ability to crush pitches anywhere within reach is amazing. Rosie brings a unique element to the Twins lineup and clubhouse, without a doubt.

But I'm not gonna let these things blind me to the fact that he had a down year in some very essential ways. Whenever I broach this subject, I seem to find myself accused of being a "hater," but an honest analysis cannot avoid the conclusion that Rosario was a very ordinary player in 2019.

True: Rosario batted cleanup all year long for an historically powerful offense. He hit 32 homers and drove in a team-leading 109 runs.

Also true: He posted a .300 on-base percentage, lower than all but seven qualified major leaguers. And depending on which metric you look at, he was either sub par defensively, or the worst left fielder in the league. His Statcast measures were generally below average.

Granted, a pinch-hit walk-off home run sticks in the viewer's mind more than that steady stream of outs, which blend into the game's general rhythm over a long season. The same is true for a flashy game-ending outfield assist, in comparison with the litany of missed plays stemming from diminishing range, bad routes, and poor decisions.

But the central tenets of modern baseball analysis pronounce that outs are a precious commodity. Low OBPs are suppressive, even when attached to solid power. On the flip side, giving up outs defensively is detrimental to the utmost for run prevention.

In these two categories, Rosario was among the league's worst performers. And he's not trending well on either.

I realize that not everyone shares my perspective here. Clearly not the MVP voters, who collectively deemed Rosario more valuable than – say – Max Kepler, who received one single ninth-place vote despite his superior OBP, SLG, and home run total. That's not even broaching the vast chasm in defensive value. Kepler ranked 11th among AL position players in fWAR; Rosario ranked 50th!

I get it. This is the lagging nature of award voting, which has grown only mildly more sophisticated over the years. (To their credit, BBWAA did get it right by crowning Mike Trout.)

Moving at a more advanced pace in player evaluation? MLB's front offices. The shift has been evident in recent years, with home runs and RBIs decreasingly translating into dollars on their own merit. This helps explain why Jose Abreu (who finished in between Rosario and Kepler on the MVP ballots) opted to accept a qualifying offer from the White Sox, rather than test the market following an All-Star, 123-RBI season.

This brings us to the crux of the matter. Rosario is due for his second turn at arbitration this year, after earning $4.2 million in Year 1. He and his agent have grounds to request a substantial raise in 2020 – their case now bolstered by a dash of MVP recognition. The Twins will submit their own salary figure, and based on all we've just discussed, it's likely to be a good bit lower.

Even at the highest extremes, these gaps are never all that significant, but then again, the Twins took Kyle Gibson (every bit the entrenched franchise stalwart Rosario is) to arbitration in 2018 over a mere $300K difference in exchanged numbers. This front office is all about setting precedent.

Should the case go before a panel, it'll be interesting to see which way it goes. Arbitrators have traditionally been very... traditional in their judgments, aligning more so with the sentiments of BBWAA voters than Billy Beane. But in theory, salaries determined through this process should reflect larger trends around the league. What's 1.2 fWAR worth?

Anyway, all of that is beside the point. Determining Rosario's salary is a microcosm of the larger narrative: He's two years from free agency, and coming off a complicated season. This juncture is prime for either an extension or trade, as the Twins may never have better leverage on either front. If they choose to stay on the year-to-year plan, then arbitration awaits, and whatever that entails.

One way or another, we figure to learn a lot about Rosario's future in Minnesota over the next couple months.

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#2 The Wise One

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Posted 15 November 2019 - 04:41 AM

That is all fine and dandy that you can rattle off statistics, MVP is an opinion on what is valuable as defined by each person who has a ballot. Those people are baseball writers. If you think it should be based on WAR just remember that WAR is based on someone's opinion on how much each element is valuable

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#3 John Bonnes

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Posted 15 November 2019 - 06:51 AM

It is kind of stunning to see his name in there. I will say this: for the first half of the season, I'm fairly sure that he was on my team MVP list, though I have trouble remembering where. So if a sportswriter only saw the Twins early in the year, he or she might have that opinion.

 

Unfortunately, I don't think any GMs of other MLB teams are traditional sportswriters. 

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#4 rdehring

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Posted 15 November 2019 - 07:13 AM

 

That is all fine and dandy that you can rattle off statistics, MVP is an opinion on what is valuable as defined by each person who has a ballot. Those people are baseball writers. If you think it should be based on WAR just remember that WAR is based on someone's opinion on how much each element is valuable

 

Very wise comment The Wise One.

 

And I cannot disagree with anything you have written, Nick.I believe, however, that Eddie brings something more to the table.Something that isn't measured in WAR and all those other calculations I don't understand.And that is an energy that can energize an entire team at certain times.

 

I expect a few of the writers see that in him and together with his strength in a few traditional numbers saw him as one of the most valuable players in the game.I can certainly see some Boston writer putting his name on his ballot.

 

And I may sound like I am beating a dead horse, but when he is playing injured or while recovering from an injury he doesn't have the same energy.It is at those times when he is more likely to not run out a ground ball, jog after a ball that he may at other times catch, or go into one of his streaks where he isn't swinging like the Eddie we have come to love.  

 

I have a feeling if the Twins didn't need him in the lineup when he is beat up and he only played when healthy, a lot of those new fangled numbers would look a lot better.  

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#5 Aerodeliria

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Posted 15 November 2019 - 07:14 AM

That's a very nice synopsis!

#6 mikelink45

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Posted 15 November 2019 - 07:58 AM

I feel like I should have a cut and paste to put in each time the Rosario is the worst batter, worst fielder, should be traded is rebroadcast by a TD writer.I am just amazed - we finish a great season in which only one of our three starting fielders stays on the field and he is blasted for that. 

 

He played injured, he played tired, he rose to some great heights and slipped to some big lows, but he was there every day and I did not want Cave or Wade replacing him.  

 

Baldelli was MOY, smart, savvy, even analytics savvy, and he played him all year at number 4.Was he only smart with the rest of the lineup and roster and somehow uninformed about Eddie?

 

Let's write about the rest of the Twins and let Eddie rest a while.The FO will decide what they want to do with him and then we can debate, but for now how about an article about Kepler - is he really advancing, what is his ceiling or LaMonte Wade, will he stick around, are we stuck with Cave as our extra OF?When will Larnach, Kiriloff, Raley, Rooker be in the lineup?

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#7 TopGunn#22

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Posted 15 November 2019 - 08:05 AM

This is another reason to trade Eddie this winter (and no I'm not a hater).His value will never be higher.Arizona needs a corner OF'er with power.Package Eddie with a couple prospects not too high on our lists for Robbie Ray and Archie Bradley.Ray is needed more in our rotation than Eddie in the lineup and Bradley could be an excellent RH complement to Taylor Rogers in the bullpen.Sign Wheeler and you've got a staff of Berrios, Wheeler, Ray and Odorizzi and you can figure out who #5 is later.Larnach and Kiriloff are coming soon...THIS YEAR.They can play LF and some 1B.  

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#8 Linus

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Posted 15 November 2019 - 08:19 AM

I saw an interesting theory posed and I can’t remember where. Had to be TD because that’s where I get my info. Anyway the idea is to approach all the arb eligible guys with fair extension offers. If they don’t take them trade them with team control when they have their highest value. Probably makes sense for Sano Rosario and Buxton
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#9 nicksaviking

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Posted 15 November 2019 - 09:00 AM

I think we will get a pretty fair estimation of his value once we start hearing contract offers for Marcel Ozuna and Nick Castellanos.

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#10 gunnarthor

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Posted 15 November 2019 - 09:35 AM

I was thinking, what TD really needs is yet another article attacking Eddie Rosario. Can't get enough of those. 

 

 

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#11 LA VIkes Fan

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Posted 15 November 2019 - 10:33 AM

I am a big fan of analytical analysis for players. It helps quantify areas that are difficult to truly understand for purposes of comparative analysis. I run a law firm and we use advanced analytics as a management tool.

 

The problem comes when the analytics are considered "the answer" rather than a tool to help you get to the answer along with other tools. Data analysis does NOT give you the answer; it helps you understand some of the factors you should consider when trying to get to the answer. Over-reliance on data is simply poor management when it involves human beings. 

 

I feel like we're overdoing it with the analytical analysis of Rosario. You're right - His OBP is too low, he swings at too many pitches outside of the zone, and he had a tough year in the OF. He's also a good clutch hitter,shows up to play every day even when nicked up (unlike his OF mates), and seems to genuinely care about the team, his teammates, and winning.He did have a good year in the "counting statistics" which you guys seem to want tosay isn't important for some reason. As an aside, it do find it interesting that the advanced analytics folks (by the way, are we sure they are "advanced" as in superior or just different?) have this superiority complex as compared to the counting stats folks. Seems like both are important. Rosario is a leader on the team and having him has made the Twins better and more successful over the last 3 years.Rosario isn't the reason we've stunk up the playoffs - the starting pitching is the reason. 

 

Does Rosario need to get better? Absolutely. By the way, so do Kepler, Buxton, Polanco, etc. - pretty much everybody on the team except maybe Cruz and Garver who we hope just stay the same.Should we trade him if we can get a #1 or #2 starter in return? Also absolutely, but seems unlikely. Is there a ready replacement in the organization or as a likely FA? Absolutely not. Should we trade him just because we think we can get a decent package for him and he doesn't look great under advanced analytics?Why on earth would we do that? 

 

I know its hard to find topics at this time of year and I think a hard look at all of the Twins is in order. Still guys, the Rosario bashing seems a little over the top. Maybe he got MVP votes because the writers who know the game better than we do see the intangibles better than we do. Maybe he's better than we think. 

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#12 Mike Sixel

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Posted 15 November 2019 - 10:41 AM

People are simultaneously typing the twins are a mid market team, and that they should extend a corner OF, when two of their best prospects are corner outfielders.

He's the exact kind of player you go year to year with, especially with Kepler signed long term.

Not one person has posted he's a bad hitter, that's a straw man.
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It's been a fun year so far, GO Twins. 


#13 Mike Sixel

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Posted 15 November 2019 - 10:43 AM

I am a big fan of analytical analysis for players. It helps quantify areas that are difficult to truly understand for purposes of comparative analysis. I run a law firm and we use advanced analytics as a management tool.

The problem comes when the analytics are considered "the answer" rather than a tool to help you get to the answer along with other tools. Data analysis does NOT give you the answer; it helps you understand some of the factors you should consider when trying to get to the answer. Over-reliance on data is simply poor management when it involves human beings.

I feel like we're overdoing it with the analytical analysis of Rosario. You're right - His OBP is too low, he swings at too many pitches outside of the zone, and he had a tough year in the OF. He's also a good clutch hitter,shows up to play every day even when nicked up (unlike his OF mates), and seems to genuinely care about the team, his teammates, and winning. He did have a good year in the "counting statistics" which you guys seem to want to say isn't important for some reason. As an aside, it do find it interesting that the advanced analytics folks (by the way, are we sure they are "advanced" as in superior or just different?) have this superiority complex as compared to the counting stats folks. Seems like both are important. Rosario is a leader on the team and having him has made the Twins better and more successful over the last 3 years. Rosario isn't the reason we've stunk up the playoffs - the starting pitching is the reason.

Does Rosario need to get better? Absolutely. By the way, so do Kepler, Buxton, Polanco, etc. - pretty much everybody on the team except maybe Cruz and Garver who we hope just stay the same. Should we trade him if we can get a #1 or #2 starter in return? Also absolutely, but seems unlikely. Is there a ready replacement in the organization or as a likely FA? Absolutely not. Should we trade him just because we think we can get a decent package for him and he doesn't look great under advanced analytics? Why on earth would we do that?

I know its hard to find topics at this time of year and I think a hard look at all of the Twins is in order. Still guys, the Rosario bashing seems a little over the top. Maybe he got MVP votes because the writers who know the game better than we do see the intangibles better than we do. Maybe he's better than we think.


Given that the most advanced analytics teams are the most successful, and everyone is copying them, was that an actual question about them being better?
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#14 scottz

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Posted 15 November 2019 - 10:44 AM

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Eddie is exactly the kind of player to go to arbitration with every year until he is either injured or a free agent. Both sides present honest arguments as politely as they can, and when the arbiter decides, you shake hands, smile, and try to be the first one to grab the check and pay for dinner.

 

Whatever that salary number is this year, the Twins can afford it. And whatever Eddie provides in value in 2020, it will almost assuredly be more than you'd get from 145 games of Wade or Cave (and also more than what you'd get from 145 games of any of the prospects).

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#15 Nick Nelson

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Posted 15 November 2019 - 10:49 AM

Objective, evidenced analysis = "attacking." ok

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#16 Nick Nelson

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Posted 15 November 2019 - 10:54 AM

 

That is all fine and dandy that you can rattle off statistics, MVP is an opinion on what is valuable as defined by each person who has a ballot. Those people are baseball writers. If you think it should be based on WAR just remember that WAR is based on someone's opinion on how much each element is valuable

It is not an "opinion" to suggest that creating outs at an almost unparalleled rate on offense, and giving up outs at an almost unparalleled rate on defense, are detrimental to winning baseball games. It is statistically proven.

 

Opinions about a player are shaped by what we see and what we remember. The big flashy highlights and bat flips tend to stick in our heads. Which was basically the point of this article. 

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#17 LA VIkes Fan

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Posted 15 November 2019 - 10:55 AM

 

Given that the most advanced analytics teams are the most successful, and everyone is copying them, was that an actual question about them being better?

Hey Mike, a bit tongue in cheek. My point really is that the analytics are only PART of the picture and we shouldn't ignore the counting stats. I don't think either analytics or the counting stats tell the whole story or even do so if they're combined. A baseball team is a human based business. The non-statistical parts of the evaluation are also important if you want to be truly successful. I don't want to be the As - a team with great analytics who has lost every playoff series they've been in since 1992 except when they beat us in 2006. A series they promptly followed by being swept in the AL Championship series by Detroit. I want to be the Yankees or Houston - teams that combine analytics with a heavy emphasis on the human side of the business. By the way, I think we are starting to get there.  

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#18 LA VIkes Fan

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Posted 15 November 2019 - 11:08 AM

 

Objective, evidenced analysis = "attacking." ok

No, not exactly, at least my post wasn't intended to say that. I think your analysis was very good as far as it went but didn't go all the way. The baseball writers seem to like Rosario better than the analytics do. I think the question is Why and I guess the analysis that they must be relying on outdated "counting statistics" seems a bit incomplete and dismissive. It may be that they see intangibles that any sort of statistics can't really measure. Or maybe you're right. I guess I'm just really curious. 

 

By the way, I don't see your post as a cry to trade Rosario at any cost or blaming him for something. I agree that he is probably the most replaceable of our trade assets, well along with the other corner OF since corner OF is the position most easily replaced from below. I'm in the camp of trade Rosario or Kepler if we can get a "real" #1 or #2 starter in return. Hell, trade Polanco, Buxton, Cruz, Sano, etc. (but just one of them) for a real #1 or #2 guy. I just don't see that happening abd trading Rosario or any of these guys for an average starter or a prospect type package makes no sense to me given where we are on the contention spectrum. I think people are reacting to the focus on Rosario to the exclusion of others like Kepler, Polanco, Sano, Buxton, etc. makes it seem like Roasrio is being singled out as the "problem" and is being "bashed". I know that's not your intent.  

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#19 Nick Nelson

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Posted 15 November 2019 - 11:08 AM

 

I know its hard to find topics at this time of year and I think a hard look at all of the Twins is in order. Still guys, the Rosario bashing seems a little over the top. Maybe he got MVP votes because the writers who know the game better than we do see the intangibles better than we do. Maybe he's better than we think. 

Lol. No. Have you paid attention to MVP/Cy Young voting in the past? I can say with great confidence that BBWAA as a whole does not know baseball, or the Twins, better than a majority of writers/commenters on this site. A panel of 18 Twins Daily contributors voted independently on team MVP at the end of the season and Rosario received ONE sixth-place vote. Imma go ahead and lend a lot more credence to that than a bunch of outsiders who get googly-eyed about RBI totals.

 

Rosario has a reputation. I get that. And it's something the Twins will have to reckon with as they attempt to reconcile the likely difference in perceived value.

 

It's amazing to me that people can read a detailed, evidenced article like this that opens with a genuine series of compliments about the player, and reduce it to "Rosario bashing." Why are people so sensitive about him??

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#20 raindog

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Posted 15 November 2019 - 12:04 PM

The crazy thing is that he's not even the 8th best player ON HIS TEAM. He ranked EIGHTEENTH on the Twins in WAR according to Fangraphs. I don't care if you aren't that big of a believer in WAR, you can't think it's that off. And if you do, look at the players ahead of him: https://www.fangraph...son=2019&team=8

 

Do you think he was more valuable then those guys?

 

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