On a macro level, the 2018 season has been a trying one for New York Mets shortstop Amed Rosario. Things have been looking up lately, though.
The 22-year-old former top prospect has seen an uptick in production since manager Mickey Callaway inserted him into the leadoff spot soon after the All-Star break, but the month of August was a significant one for the youngster. Why exactly? Well, it was the first month of his MLB career where he performed like an above-average hitter. This happened by the slightest of margins according to wRC+, but it still happened.
That wasn’t the only high-water mark he experienced before the calendar flipped to September last weekend. Here’s a month-by-month look at how his line-drive rate (LD%), hard-hit rate (Hard%), on-base percentage, and wRC+ have looked since the Mets promoted him last August.
Outside of Rosario’s April hard-hit rate, each of those numbers from this past month are his best of any as a big leaguer. His success was partially fueled by a higher BABIP than he’s generally seen, but it’s not as if a .333 mark (which is what it was in August) is egregiously high — especially with that kind of line-drive rate.
There were plenty of other good things to look at when peeking Rosario’s August batted-ball profile, too. His 18.9% soft-hit rate was the lowest it had been since April, he used the middle of the field a lot more, and he actually posted a 0.0% infield-fly rate. That last one in particular is quite a drastic change, considering the four months that preceded August included rates of 5.0%, 22.2%, 16.7%, and 10.0%.
Even with such a noticeable spike in production, Rosario’s plate discipline remains as a big issue. There’s been talk about how he’s handling pitches in the strike zone better, but he’s still swinging at an awful lot of pitches outside the strike zone and his walk rate continues to be pretty low.
However, if we use the same monthly progression as above for those two statistics, along with swinging-strike rate (SwStr%) and strikeout rate (K%), we can see that he’s actually making quite a bit of progress.
Is there still a ton of improvement that needs to happen? Yes, absolutely. He’s come a long way from his two-month debut last year, though. He’s also carried that momentum into September so far, which has gotten off to a tremendous start.
It’s easy to get a little frustrated or impatient with top international prospects if they struggle after making their MLB debut because we hear about them for so long. Rosario has been with the Mets since he was 17 years old, and we all got collectively excited as he continued progressing through the system. He’s already been around in one way or another for the better part of this decade, but he’s still only 22 years old — there’s plenty of time for him to turn into the kind of hitter many think he can be.
Was it the right move to keep him in the majors all year and learn on the job instead of heading back down to Triple-A? That answer likely varies depending on who answers it, but there at least seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel with all the work he’s put in over the past five months.
Rosario didn’t immediately make an impact upon getting promoted to the big leagues like Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar, or even Jeff McNeil, but he’s at least displaying that something is there. As long as he keeps progressing in the right direction, the rest will hopefully take care of itself. And let’s also hope that August is just the start of many times where we can call him an above-average MLB hitter.