Opportunity can be found with a change of scenery. After being non-tendered by the Twins, Eddie Rosario heads to division rival Cleveland hoping to bounce back to his 2019 level of production. Rosario launched 13 home runs in 57 contests last year during the truncated season with 31 runs, 42 RBI, three stolen bases and a .257/.316/.476 slash. Known as a free swinger who possesses a strong throwing arm, Rosario became expendable with a cheaper alternative lurking (Alex Kiriloff) in the Twins farm system.
Presently slated to hit third in the lineup for Cleveland behind José Ramírez and in front of Franmil Reyes , Rosario could see a bump in his counting statistics with more plate appearances on tap. It's also worth noting Rosario owns a .353/.379/.653 slash line over 45 games at Progressive Field with 11 doubles, 12 home runs and 25 RBI spanning 177 plate appearances. Here's his spray chart showing only his games in Cleveland for his career focused on line drives and fly balls:
Trying to discern how Rosario produced in 2020 gets a little hazy. He actually cut his swinging strike percentage while raising his Z-Contact (in the strike zone) rate while his batting average fell for a third straight season. Rosario even turned in a career best 8.2 walk percentage while keeping his strikeout rate in line with past results.
Delving into Rosario's Statcast data, he generated 178 batted ball events with 11 barrels (6.2-percent), an 87.5 MPH average exit velocity and 35.4 hard hit percentage. His expected statistics suffered a bit due to a decline in quality of contact reflected in his .244 expected batting average, .446 expected slugging and .306 expected weighted on-base average.
When viewing his batted ball results, no glaring changes in ground ball, line drive or fly ball rates emerge. Once again, Rosario's discipline feels odd with an 11.2 percentage point drop in zone swing percentage but his zone contact remained steady. Overall, Rosario's swing rate dropped by 3.4-percent but his whiff percentage rose. Less than optimal but it's a small sample size. Perhaps Rosario tried too hard to be patient? In 2019, he attacked baseballs in the strike zone prompting a career year. Here's his swing and take chart from this season during which Rosario launched 32 home runs:
Last year, Rosario let too many hittable pitches go by evidenced by his precipitous drop in zone swing rate. There's a chance he turns things around over a full season, but the 60-game spring prevented this from occurring. Keep in mind the chart above and then view last year's:
Migration to the mean in the heart of the strike zone could yield positive results for Rosario this season. Expanding his results to assess him correctly, here's his numbers from the second half of 2019 through last year:
- Rosario 2H 2019-through-2020: 119 games, 497 plate appearances, 71 runs, 25 home runs, 91 RBI, three stolen bases; .263/.300/.470, 5.4 BB%, 15.1 K%, .207 ISO, .319 wOBA
This provides a solid baseline to build on with Rosario still within his power peak entering his Age-29 campaign. Going one step further, Rosario's last three years also get factored into his projection sets. So here's how they look:
- Rosario Last Three Years: 335 games, 1,424 plate appearances, 209 runs 69 home runs, 228 RBI, 14 stolen bases; .278/.312/.486
During this time frame, Rosario averaged a home run every 20.6 plate appearances. This could be an important factor for 2021. How well he produces potentially hitting third for Cleveland may open the door for a rebound for fantasy purposes. Rosario sports almost identical slash lines against either handed pitcher with a .277 career average against both (right and left) but with most of his power coming versus right-handers.
Prior to exploring his projections, here's Rosario's last three years of line drives and fly balls with Progressive Field as the overlay:
With the news of a "deadened” baseball, Rosario could overcome this with his ability to pull home runs out of his new home ballpark which suits his swing well. Now, for his projections:
Since Rosario's not a big Statcast player, his THE BAT projection resides above his THE BAT X one which incorporates statistics from the site. Note Rosario could bounce back to past production levels with a clear path to production in a ballpark made for his swing. At a reduced cost in terms of draft capital, Rosario could be a nice upside play in 2021. Especially if his runs and RBI tick up batting third in the lineup.
THE BAT and THE BAT X courtesy of Derek Carty
ATC courtesy of Ariel Cohen
ZiPS courtesy of Dan Szymborski