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HOUSTON — By no means in his life has Eddie Rosario regarded 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 priceless participant of the Nationwide League Championship Collection, pushing the Atlanta Braves into their first World Series since 1999.
He’s additionally trying 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 understood 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 Purple 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 line 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 do not know that the quiet Rosario, together with a lot of his household, is touring together with his barber. “No matter will get the knocks. He comes up massive for us. Do what you’ve bought to do.”
That was the technique Normal 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 damage and was additionally with out Marcell Ozuna, who was beneath 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 damage on the time and wouldn’t play for Atlanta for almost a month, however there was a technique 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 obtainable, and we would have liked a number of our bodies. Clearly, a number of guys had been harm.
“He was a contact bat, and within the playoffs there’s a number of swing-and-miss stuff that you simply’re going through. 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 12 months, however 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 undoubtedly 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 in opposition to Luis Severino at Yankee Stadium in that 12 months’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 therapy program when he examined optimistic for an unspecified “drug of abuse,” however 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 had been his phrases: ‘You’ve bought a particular child,’” Eddie Rosario Sr. mentioned on the sphere at Truist Park late Saturday evening 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 shocked his father.
“He’s bought an enormous coronary heart,” Eddie Sr. mentioned. “He performs together with his coronary heart. He performs for his teammates, for his groups and he likes to win.”
“Nice man to be round, I really like him,” Correa mentioned Monday at Minute Maid Park because the Astros labored out in preparation for Recreation 1. “He was an ideal 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 Lucas on the W.B.C.
“He was in love with my spouse,” Correa mentioned of Lucas. “He wished to be sitting with my spouse on the bus, on the aircraft, on the video games, all over the place. He’s so cute.”
Although they’re rivals on the World Collection, Correa mentioned, he can be high-quality with a reunion between his spouse, Daniella, and Lucas, who’s now 6.
“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 obtainable twice inside the final 12 months, first when the Twins declined to supply him a increase that will have renewed his contract after the 2020 season and once more when Cleveland traded him. It’s attainable his October heroics might be defined partly as a response to his ongoing drive to show himself.
“I really feel like I’ve had a great first half of my profession,” Rosario mentioned by way of a translator, Franco Garcia, after profitable 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 following 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 whole bases in the course of the six video games, to go together 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 facet. He bought hits off lefties, off righties. We tried to spin him. We went exhausting. We simply didn’t have a solution for him.”
Now it’s as much as the Astros to seek out a solution. As a result of no one is trying 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, in case you look good, you are feeling good. In case you really feel good, you play good. In case you play good, they pay good,” Hunter mentioned. “Now he’s within the World Collection. He will get a hoop and a bonus.”