At the end of the 2020 season, Rosario posted just a 1.0 fWAR which was worth $7.7 million. He was projected to land somewhere in the $10 million range through arbitration and fell short of that number again in 2021, putting up a 0.9 fWAR and $7.3 million valuation. The Twins saw that Rosario hadn’t been worth $10 million over a single season since 2018, and it was more than evident the type of player he was.
No team disagreed with Minnesota’s assessment as the talented Puerto Rican went unclaimed on waivers. He ended up in Cleveland and bottomed out. The .685 OPS across 78 games was a career-low, and despite being at peak age, Rosario was finding new ways to fall short. He was sent to Atlanta for peanuts, or better yet a Panda, and somehow came alive.
He attributes the resurgence to the warming temperature, and maybe he’s right. It’s certainly easier to perform outside of the frigid north, and Rosario’s .903 OPS in his final 33 games was the performance at its best. Now he’s on center stage and has given braves fans the full experience.
In Game 3 of the National League Division Series, the Braves leadoff man found himself doubled off second base on a gaffe Minnesota fans had become too acquainted with. That came after the outfielder misplay against the Milwaukee Brewers on a ball hit by former Twins teammate Eduardo Escobar. That’s just half of the Eddie Rosario experience, though.
The flip side of this coin is that Atlanta is using the former Twins lefty as a leadoff man and anchor in the middle of their lineup. He’s responded with a 1.690 OPS in the NLCS, complete with two homers, a triple, and coming up just shy of a postseason cycle. Across both rounds of the Postseason this year, Rosario is batting .467 (14-30). In six previous postseason games for the Twins, Rosario had just five hits and a .217 average (5-23).
There are two different stories at play here, and they’re both fascinating to watch. The first is that the highs and lows of The Eddie Rosario Experience are a complete thrill ride. The man is on his way to winning the NLCS MVP, and something like that only highlights the latter point. Winning in the postseason is about getting hot at the right time. That can be a team thing or an individual completely carrying the load. It’s hard to spend and guarantee success (just ask the Dodgers in this series or the Yankees over the last decade).
Money stacks the deck in your favor, but when you deal a Panda for an Eddie, and everything breaks right, you sit back and crack some peanuts while enjoying the show. Minnesota may be riding an 0-18 streak, but this is a thrill ride all of Twins Territory can enjoy.