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Rosie’s return to form

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Has Eddie Rosario found his form in the outfield in 2020?

AP/Bruce Kluckhohn

Pound for pound, there aren’t many more entertaining players in Major League Baseball than Eddie Rosario. His hyper-aggressive approach is incredibly evident in both his batting and his fielding. Rosario will not only swing at pitches that are at the same level as the “TC” on his batting helmet, he occasionally will do significant damage on those pitches. In the field, Rosario has not seen a runner he doesn’t think he can throw out. Cutoff men be damned, Rosario has gunned down quite a few baserunners trying to stretch their luck.

Rosario’s defense greatly came into question heading into 2020, as according to Statcast’s Outs Above Average statistic, Rosario ranked dead last among qualified left fielders in 2019, at -18 outs below average. Much of his defensive struggle was attributed to a lingering ankle injury, which was evident by the fact that his sprint speed fell a full foot-per-second from 2018 (28.1 ft/sec) to 2019 (27.1 ft/sec). In 2020, some measures seem more bullish about Rosario’s defensive exploits than others, and it remains to be seen if Rosario will elevate himself to be an above-average outfielder on defense. Let’s compare his 2019 metrics to 2020 below.

Statcast Sprint Speed

  • 2019: 27.1 ft/sec
  • 2020: 26.5 ft/sec

Statcast Outs Above Average

  • 2019: -18
  • 2020 (extrapolated to 162 games): -5.4

Statcast Success Rate Added

  • 2019: -7%
  • 2020: -2%

FanGraphs UZR/150 (Ultimate Zone Rating/150 games)

  • 2019: -7.5
  • 2020: -7.1

FanGraphs Defensive Runs Above Average

  • 2019: -11.7
  • 2020 (extrapolated to 162 games): -11.88

Baseball Reference Range Factor/9 innings

  • 2019: 1.67 (league average 1.84)
  • 2020: 1.88 (league average 1.85)

Baseball Reference Runs Saved Above Average/1200 innings

  • 2019: -7 runs
  • 2020: +10 runs

Baseball Reference Defensive Wins Above Replacement (dWAR)

  • 2019: -1.1 dWAR
  • 2020 (extrapolated to 162 games): +0.54 dWAR

Obviously for comparison’s sake above, I had to use 162 games on the extrapolating instead of the 60 games that the Twins will actually play. Statcast and Baseball Reference seem to indicate that Rosario has inched closer to a league-average fielder instead of one at the bottom of most defensive rankings. FanGraphs seems to be less bullish on Rosario’s defense, as his numbers on their site seem similar to last year’s struggles. It is slightly alarming that Rosario’s top sprint speed has again declined, but that seems to be a common thing among people that age naturally. All in all, it seems as though Rosario, while he will likely not ever be an Alex Gordon-type in left field, has seemed to regain his form toward being closer to an asset versus a liability in left field.

NOTE: During the concoction of this writing, Rosario threw a missile to get Franmil Reyes out at second base by about 6 steps.