2017 has been a disaster for the New York Mets. Mostly due to things outside of their control — injuries to basically everyone being a major part — but regardless of the reason, this year has been a major disappointment.
The Mets weren’t necessarily the favorite in the NL East — that was always the Nationals, who have undoubtedly lived up to expectations far — but with New York’s incredible pitching staff, it would not have been a surprise at all if they had found themselves in the thick of a playoff chase, at the very least. But such is the nature of relying on pitching to carry you to the playoffs: When things go wrong, they go way wrong. And now the Mets’ season, for all intents and purposes, is over.
As their fans look forward to 2018 — hopefully with a healthy Noah Syndergaard and company ready to go — 2017 is proving one final sliver of hope. That hope comes in the form of 21-year old Amed Rosario, who was arguably the top prospect remaining in minors prior to his call-up.
Rosario, who debuted against the Rockies on Tuesday night, is considered one of the more exciting young players in the game. He’s a potential plus hitter that’s more than capable of playing shortstop. Those types of players are few and far between, and Mets fans are right to be excited about a player who could (I repeat, could) one day become the face of their franchise, should everything work out as hoped.
With that said, anybody getting their hopes up for a Corey Seager/Francisco Lindor/Carlos Correa type of debut would be wise to lower their expectations. Rosario is a damn good player, but he’s probably going to take a while before he breaks out into a true star. It can be easy to forget how spoiled the rookies of the past few years have made us. Those guys listed above, plus many others, have come up and immediately produced like All-Stars. Baseball history suggests those are the exceptions, not the rule.
Of course, that is not to suggest that Rosario will be bad (though he probably will be, at least right away). It’s just that he has a bit of a different profile from some of those guys. He’s hit very well in the minor leagues over the past couple seasons, but the way he’s succeeded may not be immediately translatable to the major leagues.
Rosario ran a very high BABIP in AA (.433) and AAA (.377), while simultaneously struggling to get himself on base in other ways. Though he hardly ever strikes out, Rosario hits for little power (12 home runs over the past two years) and doesn’t walk (5.4 percent BB% in 2017). That’s a difficult profile to make work in the major leagues — just ask the White Sox’ Tim Anderson. It’s probably going to take some time for Rosario to figure it out.
That’s okay, of course. As long as fans are willing to be patient — a fair question, considering the city in which Rosario will be playing — Rosario still has a good chance of developing into a good player. He’s just not a sure thing like the shortstop phenoms of the recent past. Instead of becoming Corey Seager or Francisco Lindor, maybe Rosario looks more like the 2017 version of Addison Russell. That’s still an excellent player — an above-average regular — with plenty of room to flourish.
Mets fans will — or at least, should — take that from the most exciting position player prospect they’ve had in years. 2017 is a lost cause, but there’s plenty left to play for in the years to come. The hope now is that Rosario can bridge that gap until things finally get better.
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Joe Clarkin is a featured writer for Beyond the Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter at @Joe_Clarkin.