The bad and good streaks of Amed Rosario

Since the middle of June, Amed Rosario has been on an offensive hot streak. And while his hitting has taken a huge step forward, his defense has gotten a bit better, too. Most likely because of his offensive outburst, the talk of his moving to center field has died down some here lately. Is he still taking balls in center? Through games of August 3, the average NL SS has a .763 OPS while the average NL CF has a .731 mark. And the Mets don’t have an immediate replacement at either position.

The hits are falling in right now for Rosario, who has a .402 BABIP in his last 39 games and 154 PA. In that span he has a .355/.392/.518 slash line for a .910 OPS. What’s helping to drive his performance in this stretch is his performance when the opposing pitchers have attacked him with a slider. While he still is chasing too many pitches outside of the strike zone, he’s now holding his own when he sees a slider while earlier in the season that pitch was giving him fits. Rosario has done well all season against four-seam fastballs and this new-found “success” against sliders gives pitchers one fewer go-to pitch.

Of course, the problem is that we’ve seen a performance like this from Rosario once last year and it didn’t seem to have any carryover. From August 10 to September 14 last season, a span of 32 games and 142 PA, he had a .333/.366/.526 line. Before that he had a .619 OPS in 383 PA and in the final two weeks of the year he had a .538 OPS. So, is this just another six-week hot streak that we see hitters enjoy when the planets align or is this the start of something better? That question can only be answered with time.

Meanwhile, we’ve seen some improvement defensively, too. It’s important to note two things here. First is that defensive stats take longer to stabilize than offensive ones. And the second one is that we don’t have the ability to dice defensive performance in as precise ways and days that we do with offensive numbers.

But, we see that Rosario made 10 errors in his first 33 games and has made four errors in his last 71 games. Subjectively, it seems there are fewer cringe-worthy moments here recently and he’s also made a couple of nice plays on hard-hit balls.

Statcast has many more defensive numbers available for outfielders than it does for infielders. One of the things it does have for infielders is how well they do on fly balls. Here is the chart for Rosario on those balls hit in the air:

If you view this chart at the Baseball Savant site, you can click on the circle and see what the probability of making the catch is. We see this season there are four balls in the air that he probably should have caught – three with a 99% catch probability and one with a 75% catch probability – while there are two really nice plays that he made – one with a 20% catch probability and one with a 5% catch probability. Unfortunately, while it lists the catch probabilities, it does not list the dates of the plays in question. And there’s nothing (yet) for grounders to infielders.

As long as we’re looking him up on Statcast, let’s check in on some of his offensive numbers. Both his Exit Velocity (90.1) and his launch angle (9.8) are improved from a season ago. And in last night’s game, he had three balls his with an Exit Velocity of 97 and above.

What does it all mean?

The answer to that is far from neat and tidy. We’ve seen his good offensive numbers bunched together in the last six weeks. And we’ve seen his worst defensive performance, at least from an errors’ perspective, came from April 16 to May 7, when he committed 10 errors. Rosario’s overall defensive numbers are lousy. But they’re lousy in no small part because of three weeks where he was abysmal. On the flip side, Rosario’s offensive numbers look solid overall (103 OPS+) but his hitting the last six weeks has upped his season-long OPS 78 points.

Can a season be defined by a short stretch where a player was either terrible or tremendous? How long should we hold a bad stretch against a player? How long should we let a hot streak influence our thoughts about a hitter? There are no easy answers to those questions. But right now how you answer those will go a long way in determining how you view Rosario. My opinion is that we don’t have enough information – either this year or in his MLB career – to make any definitive statement.

And those who’ve made up their mind are jumping the gun, both offensively and defensively.

10 comments for “The bad and good streaks of Amed Rosario

  1. Metsense
    August 4, 2019 at 1:19 pm

    Brian, this was a superb piece.
    I thought Rosario was going to have a break out this like Reyes did at this point of his career. It didn’t happen. Maybe it will never happen. Rosario has improved offensively this year and improve in the last 71 games defensively.At this point, the Mets have a league average shortstop. He is arbitration eligible in 2021 and a free agent in 2024. In the minors, Guillorme is having a good year (871 OPS) but is not better than Rosario but he should replace Hechavarria in 2020. Gimenez in AA is having a disappointing year (687 OPS) but he is only 21 yoa next month.
    I would not make it a priority this winter to upgrade the shortstop position. Rosario is inexpensive, controlled and sufficient. He is trending upward and maybe he has a higher ceiling.

    • August 4, 2019 at 11:59 pm

      Thanks for the kind words!

      Hechavarria had that mini HR hitting stretch and it seemed like maybe he wasn’t a zero offensively. But here he is with a .666 OPS after 57 games played, pretty close to his career .637 OPS.

      He is who we thought.

  2. August 4, 2019 at 10:23 pm

    Rosario is very encouraging, offensively. Grind the stats as we might, he’s being productive for a 23 year old “Unfinished” skill position player.

    I don’t know where to find the stat, but my guess is that Infield Chances would be down in the age of the Elevated Swing/Flyball/Strikeout. Reliable Hands and Arm….Good Decisions…Shifts/Positioning should mitigate much of the effect of lower range, if it really does exist in Rosario.

    He’s a very talented player…you can’t have nice young players without the obvious ups and downs. He’s on track for 50 plus XBH….. He’s not perfect…..yet

    • August 5, 2019 at 12:10 am

      In 2018, NL shortstops had 9,879 chances in 2,432 games (there were 4 teams that played a Game 163 last year and 2 teams that only played 161) for 4.06 chances per game.

      In 2019, NL shortstops have 6,561 chances in 1656 games for 3.96 chances per game

      In 1980, NL shortstops had 10,108 chances in 1,946 games for 5.19 chances per game
      https://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/NL/1980-specialpos_ss-fielding.shtml

      • Eraff
        August 5, 2019 at 8:27 am

        Interesting Stat….Thanks!!!!—about 1.25 less Chances per game for the Shortstop versus 1980…. 5.19/per—- 3.96/per

        Watching Yanks Sox briefly over the weekend…. It was conspicuous to note that the Yanks had 4-5 grounders within the middle of the game—all 5 went for basehits…. it struck me that all 5 of those ground balls went through for hits. The Game has Changed

        • August 5, 2019 at 10:58 am

          Everyone complains about the strikeouts but the strikeouts are just replacing easy ground outs and lazy fly balls. Below is information from the NL:

          2019 – 8.6 hits per game
          1980 – 8.8 hits per game

  3. TJ
    August 4, 2019 at 10:39 pm

    I echo Metsense in that this was another excellent piece, so thanks for the pleasure.

    I have been a hard critic of Rosario this year. Nothing personal, he seems like a good kid, and he is still just 23. Perhaps some of the agnst is rooted in the “hype” regarding his potential. This was not just Met hype, as he was rated in the top 5 overall prospects by several, and even the top overall prospect as I recall. While every player is unique, it wasn’t too unreasonable to expect a Frankie Lindor-type player, perhaps not immediately, but after a year or two. Most said the hit pool and pitch selection needed work, and we all know there are no guarantees in that area, as many a big prospect has failed to overcome that issue.

    The things that irk me the most are his lack of fundamentals, and especially on defense. Just this week I read were the coaching has “fixed” his fielding stance, allowing him more range. I myself was at a game last Sunday where he failed to run at all on a pop-up straight up, dropped by the Pirate 1B, luckily a foot or two foul. These issues are not only an inductment on the player but on the organization as well.

    Probably the biggest reasons to keep Rosario at SS for now, aside from his recent uptick, are that Giminez has stumbled at AA, and that Rosario has not looked good “practicing” in CF. Consideration as a CF makes sense under the right conditions (not learning on the job, in the majors, on a now team), but only if the player demonstrates instincts that can be honed. This has happened many times in the majors, but shoehorning a guy into CF in not a good idea.

    I am rooting for Rosario…he may be the one positional player that can have the biggest impact on the team. A speedy top of the order threat that crushes LHP and fields SS at even to plus makes the Mets a very different team, in a very good way.

    • August 5, 2019 at 12:14 am

      Thanks for the kind words!

      My opinion is that if Rosario’s defense at SS is your team’s biggest problem – you’re doing ok. Of course it’s not the Mets’ biggest problem.

      To me, he’s having a better year this year than last. Hopefully we say the same thing in 2020, too.

  4. August 4, 2019 at 11:21 pm

    TJ…it Is Unreasonable to “….Expect a Francisco Lindor….” It Defines Unreasonable

    • TJ
      August 5, 2019 at 8:25 am

      Eraff,
      Allow me to clarify. When I referenced Lindor, it was not in regards to his 30+ HR power or his .300+ average. It was more in reference to his path, projection, and outcome. Both players were identified as top overall prospects at a very young age. Both players ascended to the top overall prospect in the game, with projects of excelling in the majors on both sides of the ball and sticking at SS. Both players made the bigs at a very young age, I think 21 for each, and both players stayed upon arrival. Lindor has clearly grow into an elite player. It is not fair to expect Rosario to reach Lindor’s performance level, but that is not my point. But, it is reasonable to expect a player with Rosario’s tools and the objective reviews of his capabilities to hold his own in the beginning and grow into a plus performer. And, perhaps we are seeing that now with some more bumps than usual. Numerically let’s say a .780-.820 OPS guy that can hit at the top of the order vs lefties, steal some bases when needed, and contribute on defense, meaning a floor of average. That’s essentially what I meant by the Lindor-type outcome. It’s still possible, but the window is closing, and he has shown flashes, but the time to sustain it is now

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