True or False: Amed Rosario played on Opening Day in 2021 for Cleveland.
The infielder* acquired in the Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco deal with the Mets pinch-hit in the bottom of the ninth inning and reached on an infield single. I asked because I could not recall if he began the season as the starting center fielder or not. Technically, the honor fell to Jordan Luplow.
At the time, Terry Francona planned to deploy Rosario in center field to begin the year. Shortstops moving to center field is not unprecedented — Oscar Mercado used to be a shortstop, for example. In Rosario’s case, it did not appear to be the right situation.
The center field experiment officially ended on May 12. During that time, Amed Rosario compiled the following hitting statistics: 221/.288/.358, wRC+ 77, K% 20.2, BB% 8.7. Meanwhile, he collected an ultimate zone rating (UZR) when extrapolated for 150 games of -7.2. That kind of defensive performance can really only be tolerated by a fantastic bat.
It became evident that the experiment wasn’t working, and so Rosario moved back to his natural position at shortstop. For the rest of the season, he slashed .295/.329/.420, earned a wRC+ of 104, and even though he walked about half as often, he struck out the same amount and became a staple of the Cleveland lineup. He even played a competent-if-not-thrilling defensive shortstop as tabulated by UZR and Fangraphs.
It shocked me, to be honest. I have long believed that routine, rhythm, and comfort are a bit over-hyped as performance factors. Elite athletes train almost every day for a decade by the time they make it as a professional; surely they’ve learned how to handle any and every new challenge!
It turns out people really are just people who want to do well and occasionally get overwhelmed. Once Rosario set aside the worries of learning a new position he nearly put together a 3-WAR season. I am thrilled to see him return next season.
What I am not thrilled about is that we may run into another positional adjustment. I will need to double-check with Brian Hemminger, but I believe there are thirty-eight players contending for the starting shortstop job next season.
It is possible the Amed Rosario shifts to second base. He may also see time in a corner outfield spot where he is less of a risk defensively, but that may require an additional boost to his bat. I won’t be mad if we get August Rosario for an entire season, you know? Call him Augustus Longballicus if he does it.
And for those of you curious, yes, he and Francisco Lindor both posted the same fWAR this season: 2.7.
NOW GO VOTE YOU FOOLS
- Shane Bieber: 96.2 IP, 3.17 ERA, 33.1 K%, 8.1 BB%, 3.21 SIERA, 2.6 fWAR
- Aaron Civale: 124.1 IP, 3.84 ERA, 19.9 K%, 6.2 BB%, 4.41 SIERA, 0.8 fWAR
- Andres Gimenez: .218/.282/.351, 5 HR, 11 SB, 5.2 BB%, 25.7 K%, 73 wRC+, 0.8 fWAR
- Triston McKenzie: 120.0 IP, 4.95 ERA, 27.5 K%, 11.7 BB%, 4.36 SIERA, 1.1 fWAR
- Eli Morgan: 89.1 IP, 5.34 ERA, 21.4 K%, 5.8 BB%, 4.51 SIERA, 0.4 fWAR
- Zach Plesac: 142.2 IP, 4.67 ERA, 16.7 K%, 5.7 BB%, 4.73 SIERA, 1.1 fWAR
- Franmil Reyes: .254/.324/.522, 30 HR, 4 SB, 9.2 BB%, 32.0 K%, 125 wRC+, 1.3 fWAR
- Bradley Zimmer: 227/.325/.344, 8 HR, 15 SB, 8.6 BB%, 35.1 K%, 89 wRC+, 1.1 fWAR
- Myles Straw: .285/.362/.377, 2 HR, 13 SB, 10.8 BB%, 18.7 K%, 108 wRC+, 1.6 fWAR
Who should be our No. 5 Guardians player for 2021?
This poll is closed