#1 on my list of potential breakout candidates is none other than 23-year-old shortstop Amed Rosario. After a short two month stint in the big leagues in 2017, the former #1 overall prospect had his first full season in 2018 and it featured lots of ups and downs.
After seeing young players like Ronald Acuna, Juan Soto, and Ozzie Albies come up to the big leagues and rake right away, Mets fans were understandably frustrated with Rosario’s slow start to his career. I mean, so far in his time with the Mets he’s hitting .255/.290/.384 with an 83 wRC+. Not exactly encouraging numbers.
But, perhaps we should look deeper than just a slash line. Maybe there are some encouraging signs in his under the hood numbers. Let’s take a look at how some of his numbers improved from his two-month stint in 2017 to 2018(per Fangraphs):
2017: O-Swing%: 45.5% 2018: 41.2%
2017 Swing%: 55.3% 2018: 53.8%
2017 SwStr%: 18.1% 2018: 12.8%
2017 O-Contact%: 56.4% 2018: 63.6%
2017 Z-Contact%: 75.9% 2018: 76%
2017 Contact%: 67.3% 2018: 76%
2017 K%: 28.8% 2018: 20.1%
2017 Hard%: 24.1% 2018: 27.7%
2017 BB%: 1.8% 2018: 4.9%
So, after reading that, you’re telling me Rosario is chasing less, making more contact, making harder contact, walking more, and striking out less? Seems encouraging.
Now, you may be asking yourself, with all these improvements, why did Rosario only hit for a measly .256/.295/.381 slash line in 2018?
To that, I say lets take a deeper look instead. Lets compare his stats from his first half and second half:
2018 Rosario first half: .246/.289/.379 81 wRC+
2018 Rosario second half: .268/.302/.383 90 wRC+
Clear improvement, but we can take a look deeper:
From August 12th to September 30th, the final seven weeks of last season, Rosario hit:
.298/.332/.441 with a 114 wRC+ with a 26.2 LD%
Now we’re talking.
The results weren’t there in the first half of 2018, but with the strides he made you knew the results were going to come eventually, over the final seven weeks they did in a huge way, he was a big part of the Mets second half resurgence in 2018.
Not only did his hitting improve in the second half last year, but so did his baserunning, especially when it came to stealing bases. In the first half Rosario struggled in this area, only stealing 6 bases in 11 attempts (55%). In the second half Amed stole 18 bases in just 24 attempts (75%). A huge step forward.
If Rosario can take his second half last season and build on that into 2019, he is primed for a breakout year. And it looks like he is doing just that. Spring Training wrapped up on Monday and Rosario finished his spring hitting .356/.442/.556 with 16 hits, five of them being extra-base hits.
I see big things ahead for Amed Rosario!