Has Cleveland Indians shortstop Amed Rosario emerged as the best two-hole hitter in baseball?
In 22 games played by Amed Rosario in the month of April for the Cleveland Indians, he managed just one multi-hit game, and that only came in the penultimate game of the month. Such was the poor start made to the 2021 campaign by the 25-year-old.
In his last 21 games, however, the young shortstop has turned a sharp and exciting corner. Rosario tallied two or more hits in eight of those 21 contests, including two four-hit efforts. His batting average has surged from a near Mario Mendoza-esque .227, on May 22, to a dizzying .284 average after an impressive stretch of play with the lumber, which culminated in a two-hit effort on June 17 as the Indians completed the four-game sweep against the Baltimore Orioles at Progressive Field.
To give a more clear picture of how good Rosario has been, he is hitting a sky-high .375 in June. That comes after swatting his way to a .357 average in the second half of May, and .307 for the month as a whole.
What’s more, he’s swinging a searing hot bat in the clutch. For the season, Amed has raised his batting average to a stratospheric .392 with runners in scoring position. In late and close games – defined as any at-bat in the seventh inning or later where the batter’s team trails by three runs or fewer, is tied or is ahead by only one run – he swings a robust .310 average, while also registering a .304 mark with RISP and two outs.
His prowess hitting the baseball in clutch situations has been crucial to the Tribe’s miraculous ability to keep tallying up the wins despite a horrendous spate of injuries to their starting pitching, which has left them with only one healthy and reliable, true starter in their rotation. The Indians had also been putrid at the plate with runners in scoring position up until recently, so the life that has come into Rosario’s bat has been a welcomed sight.
Cleveland Indians manager, Terry Francona, has used Amed Rosario in almost every spot in the lineup, except third and cleanup, as he tried to find a spot in the order where the young starlet could flourish after coming to Cleveland last offseason as part of the unpopular trade which sent all-star shortstop Francisco Lindor to the New York Mets. It appears Rosario has found his niche in the two hole where he is hitting .349 with a .393 on-base percentage; perfect numbers for a hitter expected to help set the table for a team’s top sluggers.
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It would be hard to argue for any player in baseball hitting better at the two spot in recent weeks. A case could be made for Jesse Winker of the Cincinnati Reds who is having a phenomenal year, batting .345 as the Reds’ number two, with an obscene .431 on-base percentage. But he is starting as much at leadoff as he is in the two-hole, so we’ll disqualify him from consideration in favor of our own player; not that we’re biased or anything.
But one player Amed Rosario has certainly eclipsed is the man he replaced at shortstop in Cleveland. Lindor, who was already coming off a down year for him in 2020, has been used almost exclusively in the two spot with the Mets in 2021, and is hitting an ugly .217 with a woeful .317 OBP. And that is the comparison that counts.
The Tribe currently look to have the younger, cheaper, under team control until 2024, and, right now, better performing of the two infielders who headlined that player swap in the offseason.
Amed Rosario has been an integral part of the recent spark to life of Cleveland’s formerly anemic offense. An offense that has also received a shot in the arm following the call up of first base prospect, and fellow clutch-hitting wizard, Bobby Bradley, while José Ramírez is calmly putting up another all-star caliber season.
Tribe fans can also gear up for the big bat of Franmil Reyes rejoining the hitting party sooner rather than later. If the Indians can get their pitching healthy in time for a brutal July schedule, and weather that storm, fans can get excited at the prospect of more of the postseason baseball the city has become accustomed to seeing.