A Star Is Born

Something special is happening in Queens.

Right in front of our eyes, Amed Rosario is developing into a star.

There’s a ton of hype and expectations attached to the #1 overall prospect tag. When certain evaluators peg that prospect as a future league MVP, fans want to see instant results.

Let’s be honest. We were spoiled by José Reyes.

When Reyes was promoted, he was the first teenager to play for the Mets since Gregg Jeffries in 1987. I can’t think of a better word to describe Reyes than electric. Sure, there were growing pains, but Reyes was a bona fide stud.

A decade later, the Mets were primed to promote another fast Dominican shortstop with pop.

Rosario did not enjoy the same instant success.

Ironically, José Reyes was back on the Mets roster in 2017 when Rosario was promoted. Furthermore, Reyes was brought back in 2018 to serve as Rosario’s “mentor.” (Excuse me while I roll my eyes.)

2017 and 2018 were lost seasons for the Mets. Many fans checked out when the team fell out of contention, so “buy or sell” became a bigger story than Amed Rosario struggling.

In 2019, all eyes were on Amed.

Leading up to this season, Rosario showed flashes, but was never able to sustain it for an extended period of time. In 2019, it was hard to even enjoy the flashes as his defensive woes took center stage.

Through 36 games this season, Amed Rosario had posted a brutal -13 Defensive Runs Saved. He was having problems making routine plays, and balls hit to his left or right seemed impossible for him. His instincts were called into play and it seemed very likely that he would be moved to center field.

Currently, Amed Rosario sits at -14 defensive runs saved. Make no mistake, that isn’t good. Let’s take into account his -13 36 games into the season though. At his worst this year, Rosario sat at -16 which was last in the MLB. That -14 is starting to look alright. (Maybe not. But, hey. At the very least we can say that his defense has stabilized.)

Rosario is making the routine plays now, along with the difficult ones. Many wrote him off as an awful defender. They had evidence to back up their claims. It’s evident now that Rosario is not a finished product.

Granted, Rosario has work to do on the defensive side. What we can take pride in is this. He’s emerging as an absolute game changer at the plate.

We talked earlier about flashes. That applied mostly to Rosario when he had a bat in his hand. Just when you thought he’d turned a corner offensively, his kryptonite would appear. Breaking balls low and away. He couldn’t resist.

Since June 1, Rosario is batting .329 with six homers, 25 RBIs, 10 steals and an .842 OPS. He’s been instrumental for the Mets as they attempt to grab a wildcard spot. His presence in the lineup has become even more important with Jeff McNeil sidelined.

He’s been moved to the top of the lineup and it has paid huge dividends. Rosario is being more selective at the plate, and when he finds a pitch to hit he’s hitting it hard, as evidenced by his 35.2 percent hard hit ball rate. (Last year he was at 27 percent.)

I believe a lot of factors are in play. I feel like he’s learning a lot from Robinson Cano. I also feel being benched by Mickey Callaway last month for not hustling was a huge wakeup call. Maybe, it’s simpler than that. Maybe Rosario is not Francisco Lindor or Robert Acuna. He’s 23 years old and may just need some more time to come into his own.

Amed Rosario is currently hitting .294 with a .786 OPS. His .371 batting average since the All-Star break is fourth best in the National League.  Whatever was the catalyst, Rosario finally seems to be putting it altogether. 

If nothing else, Rosario showed us flashes again, and then was able to sustain it for an extended period of time. Actually at this point, it’s not fair to call it a flash anymore. This has been one good month and then one fantastic month back to back.

Let’s give the Mets credit. Sure, the center field rumors permeated the news cycle, but Rosario has been penciled in at shortstop everyday. They believed in him and did not waver.

We mentioned José Reyes earlier so it’s only fair we do it again. When you think of Reyes you immediately recall his ability to steal bases. That’s the next step I’d like see Rosario take. But what I’ve learned is that patience is key. Again, I don’t think Rosario is a finished product.

I wonder if the fans who wanted him traded (along with Conforto by the way) for JT Realmuto have changed their tune.

What will Rosario become? Only time will tell. I’m excited to find out.