Atlanta Braves: Will Eddie Rosario bounce back in 2023 or is he done?
By Chase Owens
No matter what he does for the rest of his baseball life, Eddie Rosario should never pay for a meal in the city of Atlanta for as long as he lives. The MVP performance he blessed us with in the 2021 NLCS was enough to put him franchise folklore for eternity in my eyes. But how soon the people forget, in this ”what have you done for me lately” form of entertainment. It’s no secret Rosario struggled mightily last season. So much so that it resulted in a -1.1 fWAR.
Not that we like making excuses for anyone, but having impaired vision seems like a pretty significant problem in the sport of baseball. However, despite the poor start to 2022 while battling his eye problems, Rosario didn’t fair much better once he returned from the procedure late last season. In his 80 games played last season he slashed a uninspiring .212/.259/.328. Rosario had never slugged under .421 in his big league career prior to last season.
In 2023 Rosario is looking to bounce back. A clean bill of health and a fresh start will hopefully bring back some of the career numbers we are used to seeing from Eddie. Although he hasn’t had the eye-popping numbers you may want to see so far this spring he has hit the ball hard more often than not in all of his WBC plate appearances.
When you look at the Braves roster at the moment, the only two spots that feels unsettled is shortstop and left field. For the Braves to be the dominant team they would like to be, they are going to need to improve on their dead last finish in fWAR in left field last season. Alex Anthopoulos has clearly took the approach of bringing in as many options as he can in the hopes that one player gives the Braves some production. The fact that Eli White and Sam Hilliard have had very nice spring trainings so far makes this position battle all the more interesting.
When we circle back to Rosario, the path for him to get a healthy amount of AB’s next season is clear. Rosario has to get back to becoming the hitter he once was. Both Rosario and Marcell Ozuna rank among the worse defenders in the big leagues. Where as White, Hilliard, and Jordan Luplow can at least give Atlanta some value defensively. So in order to get playing time next season they have to produce at the plate.
How does Eddie Rosario get back to being a force at the plate?
Well you hear it often, but the cliché of baseball being such a mental game remains true. There is something to starting out slow and baseball players beginning to press at the plate. A fresh 2023 stat line for Rosario is certainly welcome. But when you look at the delcine that has occurred at the plate for Rosario recently, you are able to pinpoint a couple things that may have been the cause.
For starters, the defensive shift. According to baseball savant, last season Rosario was shifted against in 83.6% of his plate appearances. His was wOBA against the shift was only .240, whereas his wOBA when he faced no shift was .341. According to my math expertise that’s a full .101 points higher for Rosario when he didn’t have to battle a shift. Luckily for him the MLB has decided to adopt new defensive shift limitations for 2023 so we can see more offense in the sport. Rosario figures to be one of a few Braves who should benefit with this new rule.
Another area is Rosario’s production against breaking ball pitches. According to baseball savant last season he had a .218 slugging percentage against those pitches. In 2021 he slugged .496 against breaking balls. Getting back to those 2021 numbers will go a long way for Rosario in once again being a hard out at the dish.
This Braves team is pretty loaded, and the offense figures to be among the best. But if Braves fans get the past Eddie Rosario, that makes this lineup that much deeper. And a good quick start for Eddie would do wonders for keeping him in the Braves lineup throughout the season. Let’s hope we get to witness that when we kickoff the 2023 season and Braves fans once again get to see their 2021 NLCS star shining bright once more.