Eddie Rosario is not what we would call a polished hitter.
He averages out to an above-average bat, but ask any Twins fan if they love or hate him and you will get a variety of answers based on which games they watched him play in. His inconsistencies can be maddening, but when he’s on he is known for two things:
- Hitting home runs on balls way outside the zone.
- Demolishing Cleveland pitching.
Now that he has signed on with Cleveland for the 2021 season, he should be able to keep doing one of those full time as he approaches 30. The other he can do in practice if he so desires.
In an effort to contextualize just how absurd some of these home runs are, I decided to turn to our trusty friend Baseball Savant and their advanced search tool. In particular, I’m looking at pitches that are what Baseball Savant calls “chase” and “waste” pitches.
That is to say, pitches not in the zone.
Chase pitches are ones that a batter would be considered chasing if he were to swing at them. Most of the time they are doing so because they were fooled on a slider that looked like it was going to stick over the plate. Waste pitches, as you might have guessed, are pitches so far out of the zone that Baseball Savant considers them wasted pitches — obvious attempts for the pitcher to lure the batter into swinging at junk. We can also call this the anti-Greg Maddux zone if you’d like.
In the chart below, we’re looking at the yellow and white areas for these kinds of pitches.
Since Rosario’s debut in 2015, only Nolan Arenado has hit more home runs off pitches in these zones — nine times compared to Rosario’s eight. And of Rosario’s eight ... three came against Cleveland pitchers.
The most recent came off Mike Clevinger in 2018. Clevinger missed down and away with a four-seamer at 93.8 miles per hour. Despite it looking like it was a foot off the plate, Rosario shot it back at 92.2 miles per hour and 355 feet to clear Target Field’s left-field wall.
Before that came something Rosario does quite often — he turned on a pitch way inside and pulled it out of the park. This time it was off Trevor Bauer, whose cutter looped its way to the plate and was rejected at 101 miles per hour into right field. Just a ridiculous show of force and control of his hands on a pitch inside.
The oldest, and probably most legendary, of Rosario’s weird Cleveland crushers came as a rookie off Josh Tomlin in August 2015.
In a scoreless game in the bottom of the fifth, Tomlin made the rare mistake of missing the zone on an 0-2 count. An eye-level fastball, that normally would have just put the count at 1-2, was instead blasted for a home run to give Minnesota the lead.
This is not the extent of Rosario’s damage against Cleveland, of course. He has traumatized Cleveland pitchers (and Let’s Go Tribe writers) for years now, to the tune of a .301/.337/.560 slash, 22 home runs, 17 doubles, and 4 triples in 352 plate appearances. That amounts to a 136 wRC+, a full 35 points above how he hits against everyone else in baseball.
At least for now, we can all breathe a sigh of relief that this menace is one of the good guys.