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Amed Rosario Key To Mets 2020 Season

Looking at the Mets offseason thus far, they didn’t do much of anything to address the needs they have. The lineup is effectively the same. That means a team who had a National League worst -93 DRS will have to hope the defense improves and improves drastically with the talent already on the roster getting significantly better.

That puts the focus directly on Amed Rosario.

Right before he was called up to the Majors, John Sickels, then of Minor League Ball, noted Rosario was a gifted defender noting he is a “superior defender with plus arm strength, range, instincts.” The anticipation was while he may struggle a bit offensively, he was going to be a plus defender who could one day win a Gold Glove.

So far, that has not happened. In each of his two full Major League seasons, he has posted a -16 DRS. Since his Major League debut on August 1, 2017, he has a career -31 DRS. That makes him the second worst defensive shortstop in the majors, and he is also just the third worst defender in all of basball.

It is of no small coincidence that over that time frame Mets pitchers have yielded the ninth highest BABIP in the majors despite their inducing the softest contact. It is one of the reasons why the Mets have a 4.13 FIP (ninth best) while having a 4.32 ERA (16th best) over that stretch.

This is an issue which appears like it is poised to be exacerbated. In 2020, the Mets will have a full season of Marcus Stroman who has a career 2.61 GB/FB. Replacing Zack Wheeler in the rotation will be sinkerball pitcher Rick Porcello with his 1.48 GB/FB. This is going to put a premium on infield defense, which is problematic given Rosario’s early career defensive struggles.

The good news is Rosario took a significant step forward in 2019. The -16 DRS he amassed last year was all from the first half of the season. After the All-Star Break, the eye test said Rosario was much better than that, and the numbers bore that out with his having a 0 DRS.

While not entirely Rosario dependent and the issues with small sample sizes at play, we saw a real impact on the pitching staff. In the first half, Mets pitchers had a .311 BABIP, which was the third worst in the Majors. In the second half, the BABIP dropped to .296, which was the 13th best in the Majors. That had a significant impact the pitching staff which went from a 4.88 ERA to a 3.48.

That’s part of the reason the Mets went from 10 games under .500 to a 46-26 (.639) record in the second half. Another reason was Rosario’s breakout offensively. After an 88 wRC+ in the first half, which was on par with his then career 84 wRC+, he had a 114 wRC+ in the second half.

Again, while many factors were at play, Rosario’s emergence on both side of the ball played a key role in the Mets resurgence. With his hitting, the Mets had more than just Pete Alonso to provide balance to a lineup who counts on production from mostly left-handed hitters. And again, the defense really helped turn hits into outs.

For the Mets to once again be the team they were in the second half, they will need Rosario to be that player. Considering the team not adding a center fielder, and their new focus on ground ball pitching, this makes Rosario the key to the season. Fortunately, we have seen Rosario is capable of being that type of player, and more than that, with his being just 24, we know he is capable of doing more.

13 thoughts on “Amed Rosario Key To Mets 2020 Season”

  1. Blair M. Schirmer says:

    “It is one of the reasons why the Mets have a 4.13 FIP (ninth best) while having a 4.32 ERA (16th best) over that stretch.”

    —Using FIP as a proxy for average defense, over a full season that translates to 31 more runs allowed by the Mets defense than by an average defense–or about the difference between the 2019 Mets and the two teams that made the 2nd wildcard playoff.

    I’m not sanguine about Rosario’s prospects. We know that on average defense peaks in a players early 20s, and Amed will be 24. If as you noted he played better alongside Frazier because of Frazier, that won’t be repeated in 2020. In addition, a year of defensive stats is about as predictive as 3 full years of offensive stats, meaning Rosario’s 2nd half fielding in 2019 is roughly equal to a month of at bats. In July 2019 Rosario’s OPS was .940. In August, .782. In September, .725. In June, .697. Fwiw I did break that down during the season, and the entirety of Rosario’s 2nd half improvement is attributable to the week of July 13th, and all of two games in mid-August. As his month to month shows, it wasn’t a sustained improvement, and while we won’t give those 9 games back, that’s all it really was.

    Jeff McNeil is an adequate fielder, but I don’t think he’s as good at 3B as Frazier. Cano is a year older and a year worse, and Alonso is what he is. A 6′-3″, 245lb. first baseman, well, “quick for his size” is about all you can say on his behalf. That, and “he hits well enough that you can live with his glove.”

    With McNeil at 3B the Mets lost their best IFer. And did I mention Ramos will be 32, coming off a personal high in games played with all the wear and tear that comes with that? There’s a good chance the Mets IF defense will be even worse in 2020, as might their OF defense with apparently a full year of JD Davis and Dom in LF. It’s not going to be pretty, and will likely be the millstone dragging down their playoff hopes over a full season.

    1. Blair M. Schirmer says:

      Correction: I wrote, “If as you noted he played better alongside Frazier because of Frazier, that won’t be repeated in 2020.”

      That should read more like “As you noted, Rosario played better alongside Frazier. Now, if that was because of Frazier, that won’t be repeated in 2020.”

    2. metsdaddy says:

      I think for things you outline here the Mets are riding their hopes Rosario can repeat or improve on his second half.

      If you’re pessimistic about that, I understand

      1. Blair M. Schirmer says:

        I’d love to be wrong and have your optimism prevail, MD. Perhaps as the Mets FO continues to move into the late 20th century their positioning of fielders will follow suit? Moving to LA and its investment in data did wonders for Machado at SS: a two and a half win difference compared to Baltimore in less than half a season. Perhaps we’ll see something similar with Rosario.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          My optimism with Rosario is my belief in the talent and work ethic. It’s why I believed in Dom and still do.

          Maybe his ceiling isn’t All Star, but we should take solid regular, and if he’s that, this might be a postseason team.

    3. Donald Henderson says:

      Dom will be gone and Cespedes will be back.

      1. metsdaddy says:

        Not sure why people think Dom is gone

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