HOUSTON — By no means in his life has Eddie Rosario seemed this good on the plate. And that’s not only a matter of his numbers in a torrid eight days that noticed him named probably the most worthwhile participant of the Nationwide League Championship Collection, pushing the Atlanta Braves into their first World Collection since 1999.
He’s additionally wanting particularly sharp as a result of he has his private barber in tow simply because the highlight shines its brightest.
“Eddie’s like my household,” mentioned Andy Duran, who is thought to the gamers as “Andy Fade” and who began grooming heads with the Minnesota Twins in 2013 and now works with many gamers within the majors. “That’s why we’re right here. I do his hair, all his strains and all his beard.”
Rosario, 30, has been stuffed with surprises this month, changing into certainly one of solely 5 gamers in postseason historical past with not less than 14 hits in a single collection — and the one participant to do it in simply six video games. The Yankees’ Hideki Matsui (2004 A.L.C.S.), the St. Louis Cardinals’ Albert Pujols (2004 N.L.C.S.), the Boston Crimson Sox’ Kevin Youkilis (2007 A.L.C.S.) and the San Francisco Giants’ Marco Scutaro (2012 N.L.C.S.) every wanted seven video games to get there.
Rosario achieved all this whereas getting a trim on the go each three days — or, in keeping with the playoff schedule, roughly each different recreation.
“No marvel he’s lined up and appears so good,” mentioned Atlanta third baseman Austin Riley, who professed to don’t know that the quiet Rosario, together with a lot of his household, is touring along with his barber. “No matter will get the knocks. He comes up massive for us. Do what you’ve obtained to do.”
That was the technique Common Supervisor Alex Anthopoulos adopted when he acquired Rosario in a commerce with Cleveland on July 30. Atlanta had misplaced its star outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. to a knee harm and was additionally with out Marcell Ozuna, who was underneath investigation after an arrest on fees of home violence. Regardless, the weak N.L. East was up for grabs, and Anthopoulos rebuilt his outfield on the fly.
Rosario was battling an stomach harm on the time and wouldn’t play for Atlanta for practically a month, however there was a way to Anthopoulos’s dealing.
“He’s been round a very long time, and he had gotten off to a gradual begin in Cleveland,” Anthopoulos mentioned. “He had simply began to swing the bat properly. He was out there, and we would have liked a variety of our bodies. Clearly, a variety of guys have been damage.
“He was a contact bat, and within the playoffs there’s a variety of swing-and-miss stuff that you just’re dealing with. To place the ball in play is an enormous deal.”
Rosario has proven a knack for that since breaking into the majors with the Minnesota Twins in 2015. Not solely did he hit a house run off Oakland’s Scott Kazmir in his main league debut on Could 6 of that yr, nevertheless it was an opposite-field drive on the primary big-league pitch he noticed.
“We knew he was a swinger as a result of I used to be with him in spring coaching,” mentioned Torii Hunter, who was within the last season of his 19-year profession and within the Twins lineup because the designated-hitter that day. “So I used to be like, ‘Wow, he’s positively swinging on the first pitch right here.’ However I didn’t assume he’d go deep. I used to be like, ‘Oh my God.’
“He by no means noticed a pitch he didn’t like.”
Rosario wound up leading the majors in 2015 with 15 triples, probably the most for a rookie since Ray Lankford had 15 in 1991 with the Cardinals. He additionally led all rookies in outfield assists (16).
He established himself as an on a regular basis participant in 2017, batting .290 with 27 homers and 78 R.B.I. Then he blasted a two-run, first-inning homer towards Luis Severino at Yankee Stadium in that yr’s A.L. wild-card recreation. That paired him with Gary Gaetti as the one gamers in baseball historical past to homer of their first regular-season at-bats and of their first postseason at-bats.
“No query he likes the massive stage,” the Corridor of Famer Paul Molitor, who was Rosario’s supervisor on the time in Minnesota, mentioned by way of textual content.
A local of Guayama, Puerto Rico, Rosario was picked by the Twins within the fourth spherical of the 2010 draft. His profession briefly stalled when he obtained a 50-game suspension for violating phrases of M.L.B.’s drug remedy program when he examined constructive for an unspecified “drug of abuse,” nevertheless it didn’t take him lengthy to rise to the majors afterward.
“I met Mr. Molitor when Eddie was within the minor leagues, and these have been his phrases: ‘You’ve obtained a particular child,’” Eddie Rosario Sr. mentioned on the sphere at Truist Park late Saturday night time after Atlanta clinched its World Collection berth. “And we do have a particular child.”
Rosario’s penchant for producing on the massive stage has not stunned his father.
“He’s obtained an enormous coronary heart,” Eddie Sr. mentioned. “He performs along with his coronary heart. He performs for his teammates, for his groups and he likes to win.”
In an particularly significant second, Rosario scored the winning run for the Twins in the 16th inning throughout a series against Cleveland in San Juan’s Hiram Bithorn Stadium in 2018. He additionally teamed with Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, Javier Baez, Carlos Beltran, Yadier Molina and others to assist push Puerto Rico to the title recreation of the 2017 World Baseball Classic earlier than shedding to america. Rosario batted .316 through the W.B.C.
“Nice man to be round, I like him,” Correa mentioned Monday at Minute Maid Park because the Astros labored out in preparation for Sport 1. “He was a fantastic teammate. Clearly, he’s a heck of a expertise. I’m tremendous excited I get to see him right here once more on the largest stage of baseball.”
Correa nonetheless chuckles on the reminiscence of Rosario’s son, Raydieliz, on the W.B.C.
“He was in love with my spouse,” Correa mentioned of Raydieliz. “He wished to be sitting with my spouse on the bus, on the airplane, on the video games, all over the place. He’s so cute.”
Although they’re rivals on the World Collection, Correa mentioned, he could be high-quality with a reunion between his spouse, Daniella, and Raydieliz.
“He can sit along with her and entertain her,” Correa mentioned. “She’s pregnant now, so she wants some stomach rubs.”
Regardless of his expertise, Rosario has been out there twice throughout the final yr, first when the Twins declined to supply him a increase that might have renewed his contract after the 2020 season and once more when Cleveland traded him. It’s doable his October heroics could be defined partly as a response to his ongoing drive to show himself.
“I really feel like I’ve had a very good first half of my profession,” Rosario mentioned by way of a translator, Franco Garcia, after successful the N.L.C.S. M.V.P. “I really feel like I used to be vying for 2 All-Star appearances. I really feel like I deserved them. That didn’t occur, so I stored simply vying for the subsequent award or accolade, and this was it. However that’s simply the way in which I play. I need to illustrate the kind of ballplayer that I’m.”
He bashed the Los Angeles Dodgers with a .560 average (14 for 25), three homers and 9 R.B.I. He racked up 26 complete bases through the six video games, to go along with six runs scored and a stolen base.
“We simply couldn’t determine him out,” Dodgers Supervisor Dave Roberts mentioned. “He beat us the opposite manner. He beat us to the pull aspect. He obtained hits off lefties, off righties. We tried to spin him. We went laborious. We simply didn’t have a solution for him.”
Now it’s as much as the Astros to search out a solution. As a result of no person is wanting higher proper now than Rosario.
“I’ve not met his barber,” Atlanta starter Max Fried mentioned. “He does look nice on a regular basis, although. He by no means has a hair misplaced.”
“Like Deion Sanders mentioned, when you look good, you’re feeling good. For those who really feel good, you play good. For those who play good, they pay good,” Hunter mentioned. “Now he’s within the World Collection. He will get a hoop and a bonus.”