Rosario's plate discipline key to his success

Left fielder has career-high 15 homers and improved walk rate

Rosario's plate discipline key to his success

DETROIT -- With improved plate discipline, left fielder Eddie Rosario has quietly become one of the Twins' most productive hitters and is enjoying a breakout season offensively.

Rosario entered Saturday's game against the Tigers hitting .292/.332/.492 with a career-high 15 homers, 23 doubles and 44 RBIs in 105 games. Rosario is laying off bad pitches that gave him trouble in the past, as he swung at 44.5 percent of pitches categorized as balls last year, but has improved that to 38.9 percent this year, per FanGraphs.com. He's still aggressive, swinging at just as many strikes, 72 percent compared to 71.4 percent last year, but he's finding better pitches to drive.

Rosario hit his 16th homer in the third inning off Jordan Zimmermann on Saturday night. 

"I don't do a lot of digging on the numbers, but the eye test would tell you that's probably the case," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "Rosie is just so talented with his hands as a hitter. I love it when he hits home runs to left field, I think that's just a good sign that he's staying on the baseball. But I think a lot of it does probably center with the fact that the closer the ball is to a strike, the better chance he has."

Rosario said he's starting to pick up on pitchers' tendencies more in his third year in the Majors, and he's still being aggressive at the plate, but trying to swing at better pitches. He's also more comfortable against lefties, hitting .287 against them, compared to .293 against right-handers.

"I feel great," Rosario said. "Right now, I feel comfortable with the pitchers. I see the balls and strikes, and I'm looking for my pitch."

Rosario, 25, can be a tough player to evaluate because he has impressive tools, but entered the year with a career .292 on-base percentage. He's worked to improve his walk rate this year, from 3.4 percent of his plate appearances last year to 5.9 percent, and Molitor believes Rosario is solidifying himself as an everyday left fielder.

"He's always a tricky one," Molitor said. "So much depends on him being able to shore up the things that have caused us to pause now and then over the past couple of years, whether it's decision-making or the ability to take a good at-bat when you need a ball in play, instead of swinging at three pitches that aren't even close. But the talent, the ability to hit and run the bases, he's very creative."

Rosario has also been showing more power recently, hitting four homers over his last six games, and while he doesn't have the size of a prototypical power hitter, he believes his hands supply his power.

"I think it's my hands," Rosario said. "I have a short swing. When my hands are in a good position, I feel strong."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.