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Over/Under 2021 Preview: Eddie Rosario


Seth Stohs
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The SB Nation site, Let's Go Tribe, they're doing some over-unders for their players. Today they discuss Eddie Rosario. I mainly just liked their Tweet about it...

 

https://twitter.com/LetsGoTribe/status/1365315753159843841 

 

https://www.letsgotribe.com/2021/2/26/22301007/over-under-2021-preview-eddie-rosario

 

 

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Being able to hit in Cleveland without having to do it facing Cleveland pitching will certainly be a boost, too. Not sure how much protection he's going to get in the lineup, though. Easy career-record for walks, if he's willing to take them.

 

I don't think it's a matter of being willing.  If he couldn't walk with the protection the Twins lineup gave him he certainly won't having no protection in Cleveland's lineup.  I hope Eddie does well, but why would a pitcher throw him a strike.  Besides Eddie swinging at everything outside the zone, even if he walks, pitchers won't feel threatened with anyone coming up behind him.  Unless he's hitting in front of Ramirez, but I feel like Eddie will be hitting behind Jose.

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Being able to hit in Cleveland without having to do it facing Cleveland pitching will certainly be a boost, too. Not sure how much protection he's going to get in the lineup, though. Easy career-record for walks, if he's willing to take them.

I was thinking the same thing Big Dog. He wouldn't be facing CLE pitchers so I give him an over. I was afraid that he might end up there.

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I don't think it's a matter of being willing.  If he couldn't walk with the protection the Twins lineup gave him he certainly won't having no protection in Cleveland's lineup.  I hope Eddie does well, but why would a pitcher throw him a strike.  Besides Eddie swinging at everything outside the zone, even if he walks, pitchers won't feel threatened with anyone coming up behind him.  Unless he's hitting in front of Ramirez, but I feel like Eddie will be hitting behind Jose.

 

Eddie was 3rd on the team last year in walks, and he has proven he can hit the ball and get on base whether the pitchers throw him strikes or not.

 

Eddie really is not the guy who a pitcher can pitch around and hope for a positive result. He can hit pitches in the dirt, he can hit pitches over his head. I would love to know how opposing catchers and coaches recommend how to pitch to him. It's probably just to throw him changeups and pray the ball stays in the infield when he makes contact.

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Eddie was 3rd on the team last year in walks, and he has proven he can hit the ball and get on base whether the pitchers throw him strikes or not.

 

Eddie really is not the guy who a pitcher can pitch around and hope for a positive result. He can hit pitches in the dirt, he can hit pitches over his head. I would love to know how opposing catchers and coaches recommend how to pitch to him. It's probably just to throw him changeups and pray the ball stays in the infield when he makes contact.

 

Yes, Eddie was third in walks last year, and raised his bb% to a new career high, but that doesn't tell the whole story.

 

In 2019, Eddie swung at 59.1% of pitches while in 2020, he cut that down to 51.7%.  The problem is that while Eddie did cut his chase rate (swung at 46.3% of pitches outside the zone in 2019, compared to "only" 42.6% in 2020), he even more dramatically cut the rate at which he swung at pitches inside the zone (80.4% in 2019, 69% in 2020).  The number of pitches he saw in the zone also decreased from 37.6% to 34.3%, which is not enough to explain the surge in walks (Eddie saw 3.51 pitches/PA in 2019, compared to 3.58 in 2020--this means he saw 2.2 out of zone pitches/PA in 2019, compared to 2.4 out of zone pitches/PA in 2020.  Essentially, Eddie saw one more ball per game, assuming he batted 5 times).

 

Thus, Eddie's increased walks came not from refusing to swing at the slop pitchers threw him, it came from pointedly deciding not to swing at pitches inside the zone--the exact pitches he should be swinging at.  Given the cratering of his hard hit rate (30.3%, 152 out of 203 players with more than 150 PA's last year), and the sharp increase in his soft contact rate (21.3%, 24th highest of those same 203 players), Eddie is certainly on his way to being cooked.  Will he have stretches where he's a house on fire?  Absolutely.  But those will probably be followed by stretches where he doesn't get on base even 30% of the time, and hits for not much power.

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I'll take the over. His defensive stats were dragged down by playing next to Buxton but he should be ok in Cleveland. I think he'll have his best offensive season there and be an all-star. 

 

To clarify, you're saying Eddie's defense suffered due to playing next to one of the 2-3 best defensive center fielders in the game?  Eddie has not had a season fangraphs rated as positive defensively since he was a 23 year old rookie in 2015.

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Eddie was 3rd on the team last year in walks, and he has proven he can hit the ball and get on base whether the pitchers throw him strikes or not.

 

Eddie really is not the guy who a pitcher can pitch around and hope for a positive result. He can hit pitches in the dirt, he can hit pitches over his head. I would love to know how opposing catchers and coaches recommend how to pitch to him. It's probably just to throw him changeups and pray the ball stays in the infield when he makes contact.

I could tell you. His first pitch swing rate is very high- over 55%. If you throw heater 0-0, he will swing and probably burn you. He crushes 4 seamers and sinkers on inner half. His ops on breaking balls is lower, as it is for most hitters. Throw breaking balls low and away. If using the heater, don't throw it for a strike, use to change eye angle only and keep it away. He doesn't want to walk and will chase out of zone pitches even if ahead in the count.   

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I don't think it's a matter of being willing.  If he couldn't walk with the protection the Twins lineup gave him he certainly won't having no protection in Cleveland's lineup.  I hope Eddie does well, but why would a pitcher throw him a strike.  Besides Eddie swinging at everything outside the zone, even if he walks, pitchers won't feel threatened with anyone coming up behind him.  Unless he's hitting in front of Ramirez, but I feel like Eddie will be hitting behind Jose.

Agreed, that was actually my point. They are not going to be afraid to walk him, and he won't take the walk, so the chance for wild swinging strikes if off the charts, I think.

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I'll take the over. His defensive stats were dragged down by playing next to Buxton but he should be ok in Cleveland. I think he'll have his best offensive season there and be an all-star. 

His putouts and chances really did not go up in 2018 when Buxton hardly played. His total zone on Baseball Reference looks worse when Buxton in 2018 was mostly not playing.  Fangraphs DRS and UZR 150 liked his fielding that year. It all sounds kind of guesswork if Buxton really cost him or not. The question becomes how many chances does it take for defensive statistics to normalize?

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To clarify, you're saying Eddie's defense suffered due to playing next to one of the 2-3 best defensive center fielders in the game?  Eddie has not had a season fangraphs rated as positive defensively since he was a 23 year old rookie in 2015.

Robbie Grossman went from a horrible fielder to a Gold Glove finalists in one year after leaving Minnesota. Eddie has all the tools to be a good fielder, I wouldn't be surprised to see him turn it around.

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Robbie Grossman went from a horrible fielder to a Gold Glove finalists in one year after leaving Minnesota. Eddie has all the tools to be a good fielder, I wouldn't be surprised to see him turn it around.

 

Max Kepler also plays next to Buxton, and his defense is very good.  Why precisely would playing next to a great fielder make someone a worse fielder?  If the idea is that the metrics are worse because they get fewer chances, than in reality the bad fielding player didn't magically become a better fielder, they just got to make more plays.

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I could tell you. His first pitch swing rate is very high- over 55%. If you throw heater 0-0, he will swing and probably burn you. He crushes 4 seamers and sinkers on inner half. His ops on breaking balls is lower, as it is for most hitters. Throw breaking balls low and away. If using the heater, don't throw it for a strike, use to change eye angle only and keep it away. He doesn't want to walk and will chase out of zone pitches even if ahead in the count.   

 

I'm OK with that. Nothing bothered me more than watching Mientkiewicz taking every first pitch, no matter what, every time. 

It's like the old saying -- if you never ask, the answer is always no. If you don't swing, you'll never get the hit. Rosario had results that would make many players envious.  

 

Rosario hits more pitches that were out of the zone than any player should. 

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Robbie Grossman went from a horrible fielder to a Gold Glove finalists in one year after leaving Minnesota. Eddie has all the tools to be a good fielder, I wouldn't be surprised to see him turn it around.

Correction: Robbie Grossman had one terrible, awful season and has been mostly okay outside of that single season.

 

I have no idea why Robbie was so bad in that one season but it’s very apparent that terrible season was the outlier, not the other way around.

 

Grossman was a slightly net positive fielder by most metrics in his final season with the Twins.

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Max Kepler also plays next to Buxton, and his defense is very good.  Why precisely would playing next to a great fielder make someone a worse fielder?  If the idea is that the metrics are worse because they get fewer chances, than in reality the bad fielding player didn't magically become a better fielder, they just got to make more plays.

But the bad fielding player was not actually a bad fielder in the first place if his metics are taking a hit primarily for plays not made that would have been made. That’s the point. Just because the defensive component of WAR says you’re something doesn’t actually make you that something especially in the case of outfielders.

 

It’s a real consequence of the (serious) limitations of calculating defensive component of WAR, also one of the reasons defensive WAR can fluctuate so much year-to-year...and again, it’s worse for outfielders.

 

These same range factors also tend to boost defensive WAR for almost any player who gets to play the center field role, including players that have ‘average-ish’ speed. And that’s helped Kepler’s defensive metrics. You’ll notice that Kepler’s defensive WAR has trended up in years where he has played relatively more games in center.

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Correction: Robbie Grossman had one terrible, awful season and has been mostly okay outside of that single season.

I have no idea why Robbie was so bad in that one season but it’s very apparent that terrible season was the outlier, not the other way around.

Grossman was a slightly net positive fielder by most metrics in his final season with the Twins.

 

Unfortunately for him, it was his first season with the Twins too, so no one ever forgot about it. That was also (perhaps not coincidentally) the weird year where Danny Santana and Eddie Rosario split the reps in CF while Buxton was out.

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But the bad fielding player was not actually a bad fielder in the first place if his metics are taking a hit primarily for plays not made that would have been made. That’s the point. Just because the defensive component of WAR says you’re something doesn’t actually make you that something especially in the case of outfielders.

 

It’s a real consequence of the (serious) limitations of calculating defensive component of WAR, also one of the reasons defensive WAR can fluctuate so much year-to-year...and again, it’s worse for outfielders.

 

These same range factors also tend to boost defensive WAR for almost any player who gets to play the center field role, including players that have ‘average-ish’ speed. And that’s helped Kepler’s defensive metrics. You’ll notice that Kepler’s defensive WAR has trended up in years where he has played relatively more games in center.

 

I don't think that how this works?

 

Kepler's boost comes from the positional adjustment made for playing CF over a corner OF spot, because it's a more difficult position to play defensively. 

 

but Rosario didn't get punished for Buxton (or kepler) "stealing" opportunities to make plays. he got punished for not making plays on ball in his area, ones that an average corner OF would make. that makes him a poor fielder.

 

Rosario had pretty good range/speed when he first came up, and while he's always had some of those "what the hell?!?" moments catching the ball, he did pretty well getting to things and making the plays and enhanced his defensive stats and reputation with a strong arm. As he's gotten older, he's gotten slower and he gets to fewer balls. He's still capable of having a solid season defensively (he was fine last year in a smaller sample, and had a pretty good season in 2018 on the defensive side too). but he was pretty bad in 2017 & 2019.

 

If he's fully healthy and in shape he might be able to have a good season defensively but that's what's going to drive it, not being "freed" from playing next to Byron Buxton.

 

setting the over/under at 2 bWAR is a pretty fair number; He's cleared that in 2 of his 6 MLB seasons, but was on track for it in the pandemic shortened year as well. I think he's probably going to end up around there, which for Cleveland would be a win; they've really struggled to get consistent production from the corners, especially both at the same time. (looking back at their WAA you see a lot of results where if LF is top 10, then RF is bottom 10 and too many negative numbers overall)

 

I think Rosario helps Cleveland this year and is a solid asset at $8M. (I don't think there was ever a realistic opportunity for the Twins to keep him at that number) He should hit enough to give good value at that price, and I think his defense will depend on how his legs hold up over a full season. Might be solid, could be pretty bad.

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