Mets Should Bat Rosario Ninth
In 46 games as a rookie last year, Amed Rosario hit just .248/.271/.394. Part of that was fueled by his being a rookie adapting to Major League Baseball. Another part of that was Rosario’s drawing just three walks in 170 plate appearances. What is scary is there is evidence to suggest Rosario may be due for a regression from these numbers.
Eno Sarris, then of Fangraphs, found Rosario had troubling exit velocities and launch angles. There is also the fear Rosario’s .330 BABIP will stabilize. Also, it shouldn’t be lost on anyone Rosario walked just three times in 170 plate appearances.
Arguably, the walk rate was the biggest issue with his biggest issue. In Double-A, his walk rate was just 7.6%, and in Triple-A, his walk rate was only 5.4%. Overall, this means the low walk rate is who Rosario is right now as a player. That is troubling, and for the moment, it should make you question where Rosario should hit in the lineup.
Believe it or not, there are some who see him as either an option to lead-off or the future lead-off hitter for this team. To be fair, we did see some glimpses of his being a Jose Reyes type of electric lead-off hitter. However, with his walk rate and OBP, Rosario should not be hitting anywhere near the top of the lineup.
Given his production, you can argue Rosario should be hitting eighth in the lineup. It’s not a far-fetched idea with him arguably being the worst hitter in this lineup. Still, you have to question if this would really be what is best for his long term development. You would be really hard-pressed to argue having a pitcher protecting him in the lineup would help him see better pitches and/or help him work on his ability to draw walks.
Taking everything into account, the Mets really should consider hitting Rosario ninth in the lineup.
By doing this, you are putting Rosario in a much better position to succeed. Instead of a pitcher protecting him in the lineup, he would have someone like Brandon Nimmo or even Michael Conforto. With the pitcher in front of him, there will be more than a few occasions where Rosario will bat with a runner in scoring position and first base open. That’s quite an advantageous hitting situation.
Similar to what Bobby Valentine did with Roger Cedeno in 1999, this could also help Rosario prepare to be a leadoff hitter. With Rosario batting ninth, there may be more than one occasion where he leads off the ensuing inning after the pitcher makes the final out. More than that, when he comes to the plate, Rosario will be able to do so with a table setter’s mentality. After all, with Yoenis Cespedes likely batting second, Rosario will need to find a way to get on base ahead of the run producers to put him in a position to score.
Ultimately, so long as Rosario is able to mentally prepare himself for hitting ninth, this is the ideal lineup position for him to start the year. Should Rosario begin to hit or he show an ability to being drawing walks, the Mets can then find a more prestigious spot in the lineup for him. Until such time, let him both learn how to best utilitze his speed as a table setter and permit him to be better protected in the lineup.