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Amed Rosario’s month to remember

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Inside the numbers of Amed Rosario’s impressive August

Boston Red Sox v Cleveland Indians Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Every once in a while month comes along that just feels special. For Cleveland Guardians fans, that was Amed Rosario’s month of August.

Now, for context, this wasn’t the best month of baseball anyone has ever played. It’s nowhere even close to what I consider the gold standard of great Cleveland months: Jason Kipnis lighting the league on fire in May of 2015. Kip posted a .429/.511/.706 slash that month and nearly walked (11.2%) more than he struck out (11.9%). If you’re going to come at the king of great months, you have to top that.

Heck, Rosario’s great August 2021 arguably wasn’t even the best August 2021 by a Cleveland batter. He has this teammate named José Ramírez that everyone seems to forget exists from time to time. This Ramírez guy hit for more power and finished with a wRC+ just a shade under Rosario’s. I didn’t see Ramírez having any 5-for-5, 5 RBI games though, so I’ll leave it up to you to decide who was ultimately better.

But I’m not here to talk about Ramírez turning in another MVP caliber performance, nor am I here to revisit the ghost of Kipnis’s past. I’m here to talk about Amed Rosario finally putting it all together.

Rosario’s month was special because he wasn’t a guy like Kip or Jose who came along seemingly out of nowhere to dominate the game for long stretches of time. This wasn’t just another great month in a series of great months throughout a career. Rosario is a former top-10 prospect who has struggled mightily adjusting to the majors. So much so that his former team, the one that drafted him and held the most hope for him, traded him away before he entered his prime.

And now, just months into his new life with a new team, he has his best month ever? That’s awesome.

From the start of the season through July 31, Rosario was slashing .264/.310/.378 for a wRC+ of 86. His start in Cleveland looked a lot like the end of his time in New York. That is to say, a lot of weakly hit balls and potential never coming to fruition. It also included a lot of bouncing around between positions, doubts about his future on the team, and inconsistent hitting.

Then the calendar turned to August and Rosario turned the jets on. He played in 26 games, all at shortstop, and amassed 42 hits, eight doubles, three triples, four home runs, and endless hustle. His .372/.397/.584 slash (163 wRC+) tops his previous high of .350/.402/.538 (148 wRC+) set in July of 2019. He was electric, and just what the Guardians needed to keep the season interesting as injuries keep them on the outer edges of the playoff hunt.

Throughout the month, Rosario plated the go-ahead run in extra-innings, helped the Guardians keep the Ohio Cup, had 12 multi-hit games, made defensive plays like this, and capped it all off with the best game of his career: 5-for-5, 2 HR, 5 RBI.

Along with a traditional home run, that capstone performance included an inside-the-parker that I don’t think many other athletes would have been able to pull off. It was aided by some bad defense in right field, but don’t let that fool you. Before the camera even thought to check in on where Rosario was, he was already rounding second on his way to third and eventually home. It doesn’t matter what happened with the ball out there — he was absolutely flying.

Hopefully, it serves as a jumping-off point for future success, but if not it’ll serve as one hell of an endpoint to a great month.

Getting hot late in the season is nothing new for Rosario, it’s just never happened to this extent. He was even hot late in 2020 when his performance spiked in the latter half of the 60-game season. The thing is, he’s rarely maintained this kind of performance for this long. His current 30-game stretch, regardless of arbitrary calendar dates, is the highest of his career at 162 wRC+, as seen in his rolling average.

FanGraphs

Even with the great month, Rosario’s future in Cleveland remains murky. If he can’t turn this month into more than a flash in the pan, the decision to eventually move on from him in favor of a young prospect will be easy — even his secondary position in the outfield is in jeopardy with Myles Straw looking like a solid deadline addition. In the meantime, he can serve as a perfect stop-gap between the Francisco Lindor era and whichever middle infield prospect pans out first. With some more stretches like this, the decision of what to do with Gabriel Arias, Tyler Freeman, and friends are ready will be a difficult one. That’s an issue for another day, though.

Rosario’s August isn’t going into any record books, and he certainly isn’t the team’s “MVP” as some have suggested. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be happy for him.