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Twins Daily: The injury that killed Eddie Rosario's 2019 season

Is Rosario about to have the best season of his career?
Eddie Rosario

Eddie Rosario went from looking like an All-Star to being below average as the 2019 season progressed. What happened? Well, there's no denying Eddie wasn't the same guy after returning from a left ankle sprain last year.

Here's a look back at the ankle injury and some highlights that display how Rosario's athleticism and aggressiveness eluded him in the second half.

If it's not a convenient time for you to watch that video, here are some of the big takeaways:

◆ Rosario's performance prior to going on the injured list and his numbers from his return forward are like night and day.

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◆ Defensively, his Outs Above Average dropped from +2 to -13 year over year and his jump vs. average went from +0.7 feet to -2.4 feet, per Baseball Savant. Both of those drops seem to be unusually large.

◆ Rosario's sprint speed went from being in the top 75.9% in 2018 to just the top 55.3% last year. Again, this feels like an abnormally large dip for one season under normal circumstances.

◆ Outside of anything related to the injury, the information below (via FanGraphs) suggests he's due to have better batted-ball luck in 2020. His BABIP has continued to decline despite his hard hit rate increasing every season. 

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Seth is currently down in Fort Myers (check out his latest report), and passed along this Rocco Baldelli quote from Friday regarding Rosario's health:

"I think he's running in a more stable manner. I think he's more confident in the way he's moving around, cutting, accelerating. He'd have to answer if — there's 95 percent, there's 98 percent, and then there's no thought in his head at all. I can't answer that for him. We're happy with the way he's moving around and he's been motivated and I think he's moving well. Really, that's all I can really tell you about it, but that was a fairly significant injury that he was playing with last year. I can't say that at any point during the regular season last year that he was 100 percent running around out there. I think the offseason was good to him. He seems good out there now."

This isn't the first time I've done a deep dive into these types of metrics for Rosario. Back in January of 2018, I wondered if Rosie was already losing a step, as the metrics were suggesting at the time. Here was my conclusion:

So what do we make of all of this? Well, the pessimistic approach would be to conclude that Rosario’s athleticism is already eroding. But he’s still only 26-years-old, so I find that a little hard to believe.

Is it possible that Rosario has played big parts of the past two seasons with undisclosed minor leg injuries that have sapped him of some of that speed? The only time Rosario has been on the DL was when he fractured his thumb in late 2016, but he’s surely played through a few scratches and strains.

Sure enough, Rosario had a bounce-back 2018 season in terms of sprint speed and UZR/150. Now that Eddie's 28-years-old, however, it is more realistic to think his athleticism has peaked. It'd be unrealistic to expect him to be as dynamic as he was when he first emerged with the Twins, but I won't be surprised to see significant gains in his running and fielding metrics once again in 2020.

Before we wrap up, I want to make sure to point out this is NOT my attempt to dunk on anyone who put out opinions or analysis that shed a negative light upon Rosario this winter.

The plate discipline and on-base percentage concerns are both completely legit and far from new. I'm just trying to point out there should be some attempt to account for his health when trying to analyze especially his fielding, running and general second half performance.

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