You may have noticed that Eddie Rosario has been hitting higher in the order of late. Part of it has been that the Twins have faced a number of lefties lately, and he’s one of the few batters on the team holding their own against them. Part it is also that Miguel Sano has been sidelined for the past few days after getting hit on the hand with a pitch against the Texas Rangers.
But perhaps a large part of it stems from the fact that Rosario is having a nice offensive season, too. For the season, Rosario is hitting .284/.323/.464. The on-base percentage is a career-high by nearly 30 points. He set his career-high in walks for a season on July 5 with 16. That’s not a misprint -- he drew more walks in the first half of 2017 than he did in all of 2016 or the year prior.
We’ll come back to that in a bit.
It’s not as though Rosario has stung the ball all season long -- at least not from a results standpoint. The 26-year-old left fielder headed into June hitting a very Rosario-like .269/.302/.431. He then hit .291/.341/.519 in the month of June and has been swinging well since, with a slash line of .297/.342/.492 over his last 54 games. His K/BB ratio is 41-13 over that stretch, and while that won’t make anyone forget about Joe Mauer, it is important that he controls the strike zone better -- as we noted this offseason when we projected a possible breakout.
From the surface, it’s not hard to see that Rosario is taking a better approach at the plate. While he’s still susceptible to swinging at pitcher’s pitches early in counts or getting himself out, he’s done a much better job laying off pitches outside of the zone. Rosario’s chase rate in his rookie season was 45.6 percent. In other words, he swung at pitches out of the zone nearly half the time -- a staggering figure. That improved to 41.7 percent last year and now 36.7 percent this season. The American League average is 29.7 percent, so while there has been some improvement, more could still be justified.
The improved discipline also shows up in his swinging strike rate. That rate peaked last year at 15.3 percent, but is down to a career-low 12.1 percent this season. Again, while that’s progress, it’s still a bit off AL average (10.4 percent).
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