Amed Rosasio is the kind of player who helps glue together a team over the course of 162 games. He is an important part of the Cleveland Guardians makeup, and may not receive as much appreciation as he should.
When Francisco Lindor was moved from the then-Indians to the New York Mets in January of 2021, incoming infielder Andrés Giménez felt like the safe bet to take over duties at the shortstop position in Cleveland. He was coming off of a good 2020 rookie season where he slashed .263/.333/.398, albeit in 132 plate appearances, and seemed to be the premier player coming back to Cleveland in the trade.
Once the 2021 season got underway with Giménez starting off slow at the plate, another addition from the Lindor trade stepped up to show his chops at short and in the lineup. Amed Rosario took over duties on the infield after playing positional musical chairs in spring training, and became one of Cleveland’s most consistent batters, as well as one of its heartbeats as the season wore on.
For a player who initially seemed like a throw-in at the time of the long-dreaded Lindor trade, Rosario has proven to be the kind of guy who will step into any position he’s asked to, and will do what he can to help his team win, regardless of the glamour of the role he is playing. What Rosario brings to the table in terms of attitude, effort, and overall skillset is undervalued in comparison to its true worth for the Guardians.
Amed Rosario’s First Season in Cleveland
Amed Rosario came into 2021 looking like he’d need to find somewhere other than shortstop to slot into Cleveland’s everyday lineup. With Andrés Giménez projected to hold down short, and César Hernández starting the year at second, there didn’t seem to be a place for Rosario to play one of his more natural positions, leading to his trial run in center field for the then-Indians.
During spring training, Rosario would have his infamous three-error game in center field when he was testing the waters at the position, showing the wide gap between manning the infield and patrolling sizable real estate in the outfield. He had virtually no time to figure out the nuances of playing in center, and it was apparent in his struggles to acclimate as quickly as he was forced to.
When the regular season got underway, Rosario bounced between center field and shortstop through the early stages of May while struggling to get things rolling at the plate. Where he turned it around actually came in his final appearance in center on May 12, when he would go 4-for-5 and fuel a win in a tight game over the Chicago Cubs.
From May 13 on, Rosario assumed regular duties at shortstop, and his season picked up significantly from that point on. Although he is not a defensive maestro in the same vein as Lindor and Giménez, Rosario played well enough to help hold short down while also finding himself in the batter’s box. He went on to slash .282/.321/.409 on the season, hitting 11 homers, stealing 13 bases, and driving in 57 runs primarily out of the two-hole in the lineup.
Rosario also went on to have a scorching August, where he would slash .372/.397/.584, good for an OPS of .981.
What become apparent about Rosario during his first season with Cleveland was his ability to play an entertaining game of baseball. He isn’t the best player on the diamond, he isn’t the flashiest, and he isn’t going to put up the most mind-boggling statistics, but wherever he is slotted in at, he’ll just go out and play.
Amed Rosario’s Outlook for 2022
In the early goings of 2022, it looks like Rosario will split time between the infield and outfield like he did early in 2021. He has gotten spring reps in left field, creating a conduit for him to transition back and forth until he cements a place and the roster irons itself out.
At the plate, Baseball-Reference.com projects Rosario to slash .276/.319/.412 while driving in 56 runs and hitting 12 dingers.
From early spring lineups and based on recent history, Rosario will likely start out the new season hitting from the two-hole. If he can work a good average and take his walks, he can create scoring opportunities for José Ramírez and Franmil Reyes behind him in the three and four-holes, especially with Myles Straw leading off ahead of him. With many of the Guardians bats still questionable in terms of production potential, Rosario is a key figure in what will likely be the run-scoring core of the lineup. If the Guardians are going to be successful offensively in 2022 and surpass their less-than-desirable preseason projections, having strong production from players like him will be a necessity.
While he can be streaky, has stretches where he struggles at the plate, and isn’t a defensive wizard, Rosario does play with heart and hustle. From legging out infield grounders on his way to first base, to his willingness to play where manager Terry Francona and the front office think he can best help the team, Rosario displays all of the elements of a team-first, me-second type of player.
In today’s game, having players with that type of attitude is always a huge clubhouse boost to any team. Although he won’t always light up the scoreboard and will boot the occasional grounder, what Rosario offers Cleveland is indispensable, and helps to create winning culture for a team with lots of youngsters looking to find their way. As a fan base, it’s important not to take for granted the contributions Amed Rosario brings to the Guardians on and off the diamond.