Amed Rosario wasn’t the New York Mets top prospect by accident; he has the talent to become a star. And the shortstop is beginning to tap into his potential as the 2019 regular season winds down.
From his big-league debut (August 1, 2017) to the conclusion of his first complete season (2018), Rosario struggled to make a profound impact on the Mets offense. He had a shaky, uneven swing, which resulted in a lot of groundballs, swing and misses, and subpar production. Posting batting averages of .248 and .256 and an OPS of .665 and .676 in 2017 and 2018, Rosario was a suspect source of offense.
Concurrently, his speed and defense continued to induce hope into the Mets’ faithful. His electric speed forces infielders to think fast on groundballs and allows him to wreak havoc on the basepaths. He can also get to any groundball in the hole and is adept at turning double plays with ease.
The only thing standing in Rosario’s way of becoming a franchise cornerstone has been his hitting. And this season he has shored up that aspect of his game.
Sure, his swing is still a bit erratic, but he has been more decisive with the pitches he chases and is making more level contact. Sporting a career-best slash line (.286/.323/.422) and OPS (.745) while totaling 61 RBIs and 46 extra-base hits, Rosario has been a steady source of offense.
Meanwhile, Rosario went into the Mets’ Sunday night matchup with the Los Angeles Dodgers sporting a career-best BABIP (.342), hard-hard percentage (39.8), strikeout percentage (19.4), and average exit velocity (89.4 percent). So why hasn’t his growth been boasted about in the public eye? Two reasons: Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil.
Alonso has captivated the baseball world this season with his power (Alonso has totaled 47 home runs and 109 RBIs this season), and McNeil has a chance to win the National League batting title. There was also more hype surrounding Alonso and McNeil going into this season, as Alonso was being touted as the organization’s first baseman of the future, and McNeil hit .329 in the 63 games he played in the big leagues in 2018.
Some were doubting whether Rosario was ever going to shown signs of progression or if he should even be the Mets starting shortstop. Well, it was more of the same for the shortstop to begin 2019, but then he kicked it into another gear after the summer solstice, where he has done most of his damage; in July and August he hit .350 and .333, respectively.
This is the player the Mets thought Rosario could become. His cumulative numbers aren’t earth-shattering or anything remotely close to such status. But it’s more so his comfortability from all facets of the game that screams progress. He’s more patient in the batter’s box, has found success in different parts of the order, and is continuing to play well in the field.
Rosario is only going to get better. As he levels out his swing, he’ll make more line-drive contact and be able to leg out more extra-base hits. With continued growth, Rosario could form one of the best one-two lineup punches and double-play duos in the sport alongside McNeil.
The Mets’ identity is their high-profile starting rotation, which includes Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Marcus Stroman, and the young position duo of Alonso and McNeil. Rosario doesn’t have a part of his game that dazzles the baseball eye. The only way he’s going to get people’s attention is by flat-out raking at the plate given how everything he has done this season is overshadowed by Alonso and McNeil.
The Mets have a chance at making the playoffs, as they’re four games out of the second NL Wild Card seeding. At the end of the day, if they’re going to reach such play, they need their bullpen to pick up the slack and their offense to be more consistent. Rosario has been an essential ingredient to their offense and was one of the biggest reasons for their mid-summer revival, which included the Mets winning 15 of 16 games.
We’ve seen Rosario’s strengths and weaknesses. Now he’s finding a long-term cure for the glaring weakness in his game. The talent is there. Now the production is showing up. There’s no reason why Rosario can’t become one of the best shortstops in baseball and an integral part of the Mets offense down the road. Heck, he’s an irreplaceable figure in their order right now.
This is just the beginning for Rosario.