The debut of top prospect Amed Rosario was a bright spot in an otherwise dreary 2017 for the Mets, but his performance at the plate had some red flags. This year, he's showing some real promise in addressing his biggest concerns. And while he isn't yet tearing the cover off the ball, he's already showing the growth the Mets need from him.
Rosario's patience at the plate last season was almost impossibly poor. In 46 games, he drew just three walks, with a walk rate under 2 percent that ranked him dead last in the majors among players with at least 100 plate appearances. In just 18 games so far this year, he's already matched his walk total from last year. He has dropped his swing percentage significantly -- particularly on pitches outside the zone -- and lowered his swinging strike rate from a lofty 18 percent to a more manageable 13 percent.
While the walks are steadily improving, Rosario has made only a small dent in his strikeout rate, which is still well above average. He wasn't always a strikeout machine in the minors, so as he continues to train his eye against major league pitching, he may refine his game further. At 22 years old, he is still very raw in this regard, but the increase in contact he has shown is a good sign.
The strikeouts are keeping Rosario's batting average down at .250 and his .357 batting average on balls in play might make it seem like it's due for a big drop. But while .357 might be a reach for him, he's the kind of player who will naturally sustain a high BABIP. His speed and strong ground-ball tendencies will allow him to pick up many more infield hits than average, and his all-fields approach makes it harder to defend against him. Expect a little regression in this area over the course of the season, but he probably won't drop too far below last year's mark of .330. If Rosario can keep this profile while also improving the strikeouts, he has the capacity to put up some very high-average seasons.
One area where Rosario has seen mixed results is in extra base hits. He has six extra base hits this year, already halfway to last year's 12, but no home runs and only one triple. He's unlikely to ever show much more than league average power, but he's still falling quite a bit short of that. The good news is that it's still early in the season and the cold weather has suppressed home runs for most players, so it's safe to expect we'll see a little uptick as the year wears on. But it would still be nice to see Rosario use that speed to get to third a little more frequently.
Rosario came to the majors on the strength of his speed and his defense -- attributes which will keep him on the field for the Mets for many years to come. But the difference between his being a good player and a great player will be the bat and while he still has a long way to go, he's already taken some big steps.
Maggie Wiggin (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Archive Posts) has been a Mets fan since birth and a MetsBlog contributor since 2013. She loves throwing hard and hitting hard and hates the DH. When baseball is out of season, she fills her days with data analysis and evaluation and patiently waits for Spring