Twins designated hitter Eddie Rosario accidentally walked two times on Thursday.
I say “accidentally” because if Rosario is known for anything as a major-league batter it is for his aversion to bases on balls coupled with an affinity for strikeouts.
There are several ways to illustrate this.
(Obviously the 2017 data points are meaningless and we can ignore them; I just couldn’t figure out how to limit it to ‘15 and ‘16.)
Here are some leaderboards from the 2016 season, in which Rosario batted 354 times.
Rosario was aided in his brief flirtation with plate discipline by a Royals pitching staff intent on walking any Twins hitter they faced. Kansas City pitchers walked more than one-fifth of Twins batters during the season-opening home stand. Three games into the 2017 season, their 20.3% walk rate is the highest in baseball by nearly five percentage points.
The Royals threw ball after ball and the Twins happily took their free bases. And when even Eddie Rosario is getting in on the bases-on-balls act, you know the Twins are walking on sunshine.
Rosario’s two walks on Thursday tied his career high. The 25-year-old Puerto Rican had only walked more than once in a game four times in his entire career before Thursday, per Baseball Reference.
Just for context’s sake — and to shoehorn some Barry Bonds fun facts into the conversation — Barry Bonds had 16 streaks of four games or more in which he walked at least twice. Bonds had an eight-game stretch in 2004 during which he accrued only 16 at-bats; he struck out twice and walked 20 times in those eight games.
In the above table, you’ll note that Rosario stumbled upon a similar bout of patience early last season, on April 15 against the Angels. That early in the 2016 season — after a 2015 campaign in which he walked just 15 times in 474 plate appearances — perhaps some prognosticators or baseball bloggers with time on their hands pontificated about Rosario’s burgeoning patience and his maturation as a hitter. Maybe he was finally putting it all together!
And what did Rosario do after that two-walk performance against the Angels on April 15?
Well, he reeled off a streak of 29 games — 26 of them starts — in which he didn’t record a single walk. His slash line across that streak was .263/.259/.430. That’s right: Rosario pulled off the rare statistical feat of having a lower on-base percentage than batting average across those 117 plate appearances.
So, no, I don’t think Eddie Rosario has suddenly discovered the ability to draw a walk. I think he faced a Royals staff that couldn’t find home plate for three games and was the beneficiary. It’s worth applauding Rosario, though, and pointing out just how rare what we witnessed Thursday was.
Rosario must have also realized something odd had occurred, that some foundational, universal truth was in doubt, that the earth’s axis had shifted in some slight yet perceptible way.
And Eddie wanted to rectify it.
Because here’s what he did on the first pitch he saw after his second walk.
Yes, Eddie Rosario swung at a pitch he knew was a ball. And all was right in the world.