Cleveland Indians: Amed Rosario could be a key addition

Amed Rosario (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Amed Rosario (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

Recently acquired infielder Amed Rosario may not seem like much, but he’s being overlooked and has the ability to play a key role for the Cleveland Indians.

Unless you have been living under a rock the last week you know the Cleveland Indians traded away franchise players Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco. It was a blow to the team’s chances of competing in 2021 and losing Lindor is especially devastating as it is just another bat gone in addition to Carlos Santana and Cesar Hernandez. That’s three of your five best hitters gone from a lineup that already wasn’t that good.

The return for Lindor has also left many fuming. I’m not here to tell you whether the return was enough or anything, but one player they got that I think could help out more than people are giving him credit for is infielder Amed Rosario.

Rosario is going to be just 25 years old in 2021 and already has been in the big leagues for four years now, and he recently avoided arbitration with his new club. He will earn $2.4 million this season, making him currently the fourth highest paid Indian. Many have looked at his career numbers and scoffed at that factoid and him even being a starter. He has a career 89 wRC+ and his career-high was a 100 mark in 2019. On paper, fans are right, there really isn’t a lot to get excited about.

The issue here is we are looking at how Rosario was used in New York, and not how he probably should be used in Cleveland. Rosario was an everyday player in 2018 and 2019, playing in 154 and 157 games, respectively. Given he did post a 2.7 fWAR in 2019 in addition to being a league average bat at just 23 years old, it’s hard to argue with that usage. However, a deeper dive into the numbers suggest there is probably a better use for him, as a platoon bat.

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Over his four seasons in the big leagues, Rosario has had very stark platoon splits versus left-handed and right-handed pitching. Here are his career numbers against right-handed pitching:

.257 AVG, .289 OBP, .378 SLG, .667 OPS, .284 wOBA, 79 wRC+

And here are his numbers against left-handed pitching:

.300 AVG, .339 OBP, .473 SLG, .812 OPS, .344 wOBA, 118 wRC+

That’s a near 40-point increase in wRC+. To put into perspective how great that is, the Cleveland Indians platooned Lonnie Chisenhall for years and he had a career 104 wRC+ versus right-handed pitching and a 92 wRC+ versus left-handed pitching.  Tyler Naquin, another guy the Indians platooned, has a career 104 wRC+ versus righties and 71 wRC+ versus lefties. Rosario’s gap dwarfs even Naquin, and yet there’s been no real talks of using him as a platoon. Why?

Well part of the problem is the Indians really don’t have anyone to platoon with him. Yu Chang isn’t exactly an ideal candidate. Andres Gimenez, the other infielder the Tribe acquired for Lindor, is a left-handed bat but he hasn’t shown huge platoon splits and may be your everyday shortstop while Rosario looks to be at second base.

Nolan Jones could maybe platoon eventually, but he’s being transitioned to the outfield and not second base. Tyler Freeman is arguably the Tribe’s top infield prospect, but he has yet to see Double-A. Owen Miler and Ernie Clement are the only infield prospects above Double-A and both are right-handed bats that hit lefties better than righties.

What the Indians could (or should) consider is bringing in someone to platoon with Rosario. There are several good candidates on the open market, some that should easily fit in the Tribe’s budget. Will they actually do that though when the outfield and first base are bigger need areas remains to be seen but Rosario, despite feeling like a throw in, is in truth a very solid addition to the Indians. One that could even improve the lineup if used properly.

Over the last three years he has a .710 OPS. That doesn’t look good, but consider Cesar Hernandez has just a .736 OPS in that same time frame. Rosario out-hit Hernandez in 2019 as well. Even without a platoon, he could at least stabilize second base for a year or two. With a platoon, he could form one of the better second bases in the American League.

Next. What's next for Indians following Lindor trade?. dark