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New York Mets shortstop Amed Rosario is having a strange year

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 20: Amed Rosario #1 of the New York Mets celebrates his solo home run in the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field on May 20, 2019 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 20: Amed Rosario #1 of the New York Mets celebrates his solo home run in the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field on May 20, 2019 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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New York Mets shortstop Amed Rosario is having a strange year no one really expected.

Early on in 2019, the focus of New York Mets shortstop Amed Rosario was his defensive shortcomings. He seems to have improved with a glove on his left hand from the early part of the season when he was making an error on what felt like a nightly basis.

Meanwhile, at the plate, it has been a strange year for Rosario. His batting average and OBP are close to his 2018 numbers with the former taking a more recent dive down to .242 through 282 trips to the plate. In other categories, he’s doing some things we couldn’t have predicted.

Rosario looks ready to smash his personal home run record. With 8 already on the season, he’s one shy of matching last year’s total of 9. It has been a strangely powerful year for Rosario—and most hitters in baseball. The power numbers are a big outlier and one major improvement over the mediocre numbers he posted last season.

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It’s not all good for Rosario. He’s averaging almost a strikeout per game and has yet to master plate discipline. When he walked only 3 times in his first 170 plate appearances back in 2017, it was a sign of things to come.

While he did improve to 29 in 592 trips to the plate last year, he’s still walking entirely too little for a guy the Mets desperately need on base. He is, without question, one of their fastest players and greatest threats to steal a bag. This means getting on base by any means necessary. For Rosario, it’s a hit or nothing.

Yet another unexpected twist in his young career, Rosario’s home run total matches the number of double plays he has grounded into. This was the case last season when the kid had 9 of each. However, this year is far too young to already have 8 double plays grounded into. A pace like this could dissipate, but the large early total makes me think he’ll easily be among the team leaders in this category.

Thus far, Rosario’s season has looked like one we might see in the 1990s from a shortstop. He’s not hitting for average, he’s striking out a ton, and he’s still crushing baseballs. Because the year is young, he has a chance to match or surpass last season’s stolen bases total of 24. However, the increase in power may take away a few of those opportunities if he trades in a few line drive singles for lasers over the outfield wall.

Coming into 2019, it looked like the Mets could begin grooming Rosario to hit at the top of the order. Assuming Brandon Nimmo repeating last year’s performance, Rosario was a candidate to hit behind or even above. Nimmo’s failures before landing on the IL allowed Rosario some chances to bat leadoff. Jeff McNeil’s All-Star caliber campaign nixed that plan quickly.

Rosario is still a kid and I suspect we’ll see plenty more chances from his game. It’s very possible we see him switch positions, too. After more than 250 games played at shortstop, we may be nearing the end depending on how ready prospect Andres Gimenez is.

The problem for Rosario is he hasn’t really gotten better as a big league player. There has been little growth statistically since his 2017 debut other than the power totals this year. He isn’t someone the Mets need to hit home runs, especially if it leads to more strikeouts. As for the double plays, this is something more difficult to prevent.

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Rosario must take that next step. Even as the most youthful player on the team, he cannot get continually passed by other rookies.

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