Eddie Rosario came into the top of the ninth inning needing only a double to complete the cycle.
He homered in the second, tripled in the third, singled in the fifth and struck out in the seventh. Thanks to a few early hits in the top of the ninth, Rosario was able to come up to the plate for a fifth time with a chance to finish the cycle and become the second player in MLB history to accomplish the feat in the postseason.
He came up short on finishing the cycle. Instead, he had to settle for a three-run homer, his second long ball of the night. He didn’t seem too disappointed about missing out on the cycle:
Rosario is one of several midseason acquisitions who have come up clutch for Atlanta, not only through the postseason but also throughout the entirety of the second half of the season. Joc Pederson and his pearl necklace, Adam Duvall and his new position of center field, Rosario and his history-making NLCS performance have all helped turn the Braves’ outfield from a weak spot to a core group producing at an astounding rate in the playoffs.
“This whole postseason, he’s been pretty much unbelievable,” Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman said after the game. “When we traded for him, he was hurt and took about a month for him to get going and you knew what kind of player he was and two years ago, he hit 30-plus home runs. So he’s just been looking so good at the plate, seeing everything well, hitting balls hard and it’s just the huge games and especially this whole series so far.”
Rosario’s historic NLCS performance
Sure, becoming the second player to hit for the cycle in postseason history would be pretty cool. But becoming the first at something is even cooler, right?
Rosario did just that on Wednesday. The left fielder became the first batter to have two four-hit games in a single League Championship Series, with his four-hit, two-homer night marking his second of the NLCS. He previously also became the fifth hitter in playoff history to register a four-hit game with a walk-off hit when he singled in the bottom of the ninth of Game 2 of the NLCS to walk off the Dodgers and send the series to Los Angeles with the Braves ahead 2-0.
Even Rosario’s combination of hits on Wednesday was unique. MLB’s Sarah Langs reported no player before Rosario ever had a game with two homers, a triple and a single in a postseason game.
Eddie Rosario is the first player in postseason history with 2+ HR, a triple and a single in a game
In other words, that assortment of hits (as opposed to the assortment for a cycle)
So now that AND the cycle have each happened once in postseason history
— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) October 21, 2021
How did the Braves acquire Rosario, Pederson and Duvall?
When the Braves took the field on Opening Day, the outfield was Marcell Ozuna in left, Cristian Pache in center and Ronald Acuña Jr. in right.
Ozuna was arrested on assault charges after allegedly assaulting his wife in May, and was placed on administrative leave by Major League Baseball in September that has been continuously extended throughout the season. He had previously been left on the 10-day injured list after getting placed on it for fractured fingers in his left hand just days before his arrest.
Pache dealt with injuries early in the season and stayed in the minors after concluding his rehab to work on his approach as he had struggled in limited action in the majors. Acuña tore his ACL on July 10 that ended his season early.
So at midseason, the Braves found their entire starting outfield from Opening Day out. It didn’t take long for the team to acquire Pederson, with Atlanta sending the Cubs first baseman Bryce Ball in return for the left-handed slugger on July 15. On the day of the trade deadline, July 30, the Braves first acquired Duvall, dealing catching prospect Alex Jackson to Miami. They then sent third baseman Pablo Sandoval to Cleveland for Rosario and cash. The Braves also acquired Jorge Soler to add to that outfield depth, picking him up from Kansas City for Kasey Kalich.
Before July 30, according to Fangraphs, the Braves had a weighted runs-created-plus of 97, which ranked 15th in baseball. Their outfielders had amassed a collective 101 wRC+, though that was largely a carryover from Acuña’s 157 number from his 82 games on the field.
Since the move, the team posted an OPS of 100, and the outfield had a 102 wRC+.
“It started with Joc when Ronnie went down that (Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos) went out and got him and showed these guys that we’re not going to sit and hang our heads, we’re going to go for this thing. And then at the trade deadline, we got three major league outfielders. Everyday guys. Now we’ve got four of them. I’ve got to figure out how to make that work,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said after the game. “Every one of those guys came in and assimilated into our clubhouse and our team just effortlessly. Unbelievable how they bought into everything we were doing. The personalities and all that, it was awesome. And a credit to all those players.”
Soler was one of the biggest performers down the stretch of the regular season as he slashed .269/.358/.524 with 14 home runs. Soler appeared in three games in the NLDS before he tested positive for COVID-19.
Rosario did not make his debut with the team until Aug. 28 due to a right abdominal strain. He made an immediate impact as well, slashing .271/.330/.573 with seven homers in his 33 games during the regular season, including a cycle that he hit on just five pitches against the Giants on Sept. 19.
Duvall, like Soler, provided a ton of right-handed power. He hit 16 homers since being acquired by Atlanta, but he also turned his strong corner outfield defense into standout play in center. According to Baseball Savant, he ranks in the 89th percentile in outs above average and 72nd percentile in outfielder jump.
Pederson also gave the team a thunderous bat as he hit seven home runs and posted a slash line of .249/.325/.428, though he especially came alive after putting on the pearl necklace. It started with a home run on Oct. 2 against the Mets, and he has carried it over into the postseason, having already launched three home runs, including a three-run shot in Game 2 of the NLDS that accounted for all the Braves’ runs.
But all the outfielders have made a huge difference this postseason: In 102 plate appearances, the four have combined to post a .896 OPS with six home runs, 21 RBIs and 11 runs scored.
Rosario’s latest game pushed him out to an impressive 1.248 OPS, behind only Red Sox center fielder Kiké Hernádez’s 1.282 for the highest among players remaining in the postseason. His heroic efforts have now put the Braves just one win away from a trip to the World Series.
“Eddie’s been in the moment here. I’ll tell you what, he likes this postseason play, that’s for sure. Good for him I mean he’s really, just great at-bats. I looked up, I told Walt I was like, ‘He’s a double away from the cycle again.’ And then he hit a homer and that’s better,” Snitker said. “He’s had a really good postseason.”
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