The New York Mets have a valuable commodity in Amed Rosario. No, not the type you trade, but the type an organization invests in.
By bringing up the Dominican native as a 21-year-old, as well as he may have played in the minor leagues, they did, in a sense, invest in Rosario. They also put an awful lot of responsibility on the shoulders of a very young player.
He wasn’t asked to be a leader, but having been dubbed the shortstop of the future must have been somewhat of a burden. In a small sample size, Rosario showed flashes of brilliance in the field and some unexpected pop at the plate.
After hitting .248/.271/.394 with four doubles, four homers, and seven stolen bases in 165 at-bats last season, Rosey got the nod as the Mets starting shortstop and off he went; a year older and that much more comfortable in his new surroundings.
March and April were less-than-spectacular for Rosario, but his six extra-base hits (five doubles, and a lightning-fast triple against the Phillies) gave a glimpse into what the future of the future could potentially hold.
His 22 strikeouts in 80 at-bats were a bit of an eyesore, but there was time to improve. And improve, he did. In the month of May, Rosario hit .277/.289/.436 with four doubles, another triple, three home runs, and just sixteen strikeouts in 94 at-bats.
Progress was being made but, as young players tend to do, Amed Rosario rolled down the hill he was perched upon and dipped into a valley. As his productivity suffered, it seemed as if his confidence was sapped, as well.
Rosario only got 74 at-bats in June as Jose Reyes began to see more playing time at shortstop (gotta get him going, right?) and slashed just .216/.284/.311, with his strikeouts jumping up once again (20).
Over the course of this season, Amed Rosario has been a mercurial talking point for fans. Is he raking and playing elite defense? No, he’s not. But, again, progress is being made.
As per Fangraphs, Rosario’s advanced stats over the first half the season have painted a wild picture. In March and April, he had a 4.6 walk percentage, a 25.3 percent strikeout rate, a .268 weighted on-base average, and a 69 weighted runs created plus rating.
In May, those numbers mostly improved (2.1 walk percentage, 16.5 strikeout rate, .308 wOBA, 96 wRC+), but in June his strikeout issue reared its ugly head again (24.7 percent).
As it seems to go with Rosario, if he’s striking out, other important facets of his game suffer as well, which they did (.261 wOBA, 64 wRC+). Hills and valleys…
That all brings us to July, where the real (hopefully) Amed Rosario has begun to reveal himself. So far this month, Rosey is hitting .250/.357/.500 with a steadily improving 13.8 walk percentage, a sparkling 10.3 strikeout percentage, a .325 wOBA and a 107 wRC+.
He’s shown a calm confidence at the plate over the last few weeks, which could be a result of much better discipline than he showed last year. Maybe it just took until now to reap the harvest of that work.
Last season, Rosario swung at 45.5 percent of the pitches he saw that were outside of the strike zone (O-Swing%). This season, he’s only pulled the trigger on 40.6 percent of those pitches.
He’s still aggressive at the plate (66.6 percent Z-Swing% in 2017; 66.3 percent in 2018), which is probably why his walk rate is still lower than anyone would like to see it (baby steps), but again, progress is being made.
Now here I am, watching Reyes play shortstop (his sixth start in a row while hitting .168 with four runs batted in on the season), with Amed Rosario riding the pine against the Washington Nationals.
Mets’ skipper Mickey Callaway told Tim Britton of The Athletic that the reason behind him sitting tonight was, “mainly who’s pitching…”. He continued,” [Rosario] is making some significant adjustments at the plate, and to maintain those against Max Scherzer is going to be super-challenging.”
One has to wonder, what exactly is Callaway protecting Rosey from? This is a young man who is as hot as he’s ever been at the major league level, and by all means, deserves to face one of the best pitchers this game has to offer.
In the absolute worst case scenario, let’s say Rosey started against Scherzer and struck out four times.
Sure, that’s a crummy night, but the experience and confidence he would have gained after re-watching his at-bats and figuring out what he did wrong, and more so, what he can do to avoid making those same mistakes again, is what getting better at this level is all about.
Taking that imperative step in the process out of Amed Rosario’s hands and “protecting” him from the big, bad, Mad Max can only do more harm than good.
Why mess with a good thing? He’s still just 22. Why let the thought that he isn’t good enough to face the cream of the crop even creep towards his head. He’s got the hot hand, as Terry Collins loved to say. Let it ride.