Robert Richard Rose
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 11", Weight 170 lb.
- High School San Dimas High School
- Debut August 12, 1989
- Final Game May 19, 1992
- Born March 15, 1967 in Covina, CA USA
The California Angels and scout Steve Gruwell signed Bobby Rose as a 5th round pick in the 1985 amateur draft, out of San Dimas High School. He was assigned to the Salem Angels of the class A Northwest League and hit .222 for Salem, fanning 43 times in 167 AB and failing to homer - nothing out of the ordinary for an 18-year old middle infielder in a short-season class A league. In '86, Rose went from the northwest to midwest as he was promoted to the Quad Cities Angels; in a full season of work he did okay, batting .252 with 7 homers and 65 walks, but continuing to strike out a lot - 118 times. His .252/~.343/.363 failed to win him an All-Star spot at short, as Walt Weiss of Madison hit .301/~.369/.398.
After missing the 1987 season, Rose returned to the newly renamed Quad City Angels in 1988 as a third baseman. His hitting continued to improve, as he lifted his average to .284, cut his strikeouts to 92, hit 13 homers and posted an OBP around .383, making the league's All-Star team. His development continued in '89. Skipping high class A, he was promoted to Midland Angels of the class AA Texas League. That year Rose hit .359, winning the league batting title by 37 points. Rose also led the league in OBP (.439) and slugging (.541), beating out players like Juan Gonzalez, Dean Palmer and Ray Lankford. It was the highest batting average by any position player in any full-season minor league that year and earned him a spot on the All-Star team (at DH) and a trip to the majors in August. The 22-year old Rose hit just .211 in 14 games for the Angels, but had a 94 OPS+.
Rose made his AAA debut in 1990 and hit .283 with 10 triples for the Edmonton Trappers of the Pacific Coast League - he still fanned 83 times and didn't make the All-Star team, top prospect list or lead the league in anything. He was 5 of 13 with a homer in his cup of coffee in the majors that season. A year later he split his time between Edmonton and California, hitting .298 with 55 RBI in 62 games at AAA and .277/.304/.431 (a 102 OPS+), again doing solid work in limited time in the majors. In 1992, Rose was riding the pine, batting .270 in 20 games for Edmonton and .214 in 30 games for California as he failed to reach 100 AB at either level.
Realizing that his playing time was headed downwards in the US, Rose signed with the Yokohama Bay Stars and immediately became one of the biggest foreign stars in Japan. In '93, he hit .325/.389/.527, led the league with 33 doubles, hit 19 homers, drove in a league-best 94 runs and was named to the Best Nine Team as the top 2B in the Central League, making up for lost time after 2 years of limited action.
1994 marked the only time he failed to hit .300 in Japan - Rose batted .296/.362/.455. In his worst year in Japan, he finished second in the Central League with 28 doubles and 3rd with 86 RBI. By 1995, he rebounded to .315/.379/.530 - his average was second to Chunichi outfielder Alonzo Powell and he was second in hits, RBI (97, 9 behind Akira Eto) and tied for the double lead with 32. He hit for the cycle once, made his first All-Star team in Japan and was again honored to the Best Nine as the Central League 2B.
In 1996, Rose failed to make the Best Nine for the second and final time in his tenure in Japan. At age 29, he hit .304/.370/.472 with 16 homers and 96 RBI. He tied for the league lead with 6 triples. His 12 sacrifice flies set an all-time Central League record. Then he lifted his game to the next level in 1997. Yokohama, perenially a bottom-dweller, finished second in the six-team league, as Rose hit .328/.444/.540 with 18 homers and 99 RBI. He finished 7 points behind teammate Takanori Suzuki in the batting race and won the OBP title by 26 points over Hideki Matsui. Rose was second to Matsui with 91 walks (a league-high 11 intentionally), tied for second in triples and fourth in RBI. He once again was named to the Best Nine and hit for another cycle.
1998 saw Bobby win his only Gold Glove in Japan in addition to Best Nine. His production fell off a tad, to .325/.413/.526 with 19 homers and 96 RBI. He was 3rd in slugging, behind Matsui and Hiroshima outfielder Tomonori Maeda and trailed only Matsui in OBP and RBI. Led by Rose, Suzuki and MVP Kazuhiro Sasaki, the Bay Stars won their second Japan Series title in team history and their first since 1960, when they were known as the Taiyo Whales. The Suzuki-Rose-led attack was called the machine gun offense for its effectiveness.
In 1999, Rose had his career year at age 32. He batted .369/.439/.655. He hit for a cycle for the third time in his career, the only player in the history of Nippon Pro Baseball to accomplish that feat. He became the only player in NPB history to reach 100 RBI by the All-Star break and his 153 RBI are the second-best in NPB history, behind then Shochiku Robins outfielder Makoto Kozuru in 1950. His 192 hits set a Central League record (broken six years later by Yakult outfielder Norichika Aoki. His 10 RBI in a game on 7/22 tied a league record. He led the league in average, by 39 points over Chunichi outfielder Koichi Sekikawa, in doubles (34), drove in 41 more than runner-up Roberto Petagine and was 3rd with 37 homers, behind Petagine and Matsui. Amazingly he did not lead the league in either OBP or slugging, trailing Petagine in both, and was not named MVP - that honor went to Chunichi Dragons pitcher Shigeki Noguchi.
In his final season in Japan, Rose hit .332/.419/.538 in 2000 with 21 homers and 97 RBI. His average was 14 points behind rookie sensation and teammate Tatsuhiko Kinjo and his OBP was third behind Matsui and Petagine. He led the Central in hits, tied for second in triples, was second to Matsui in RBI and made his fourth straight Best Nine.
After a great 8 years with Yokohama, relations turned sour after the 2000 season when the team refused to release rights to him. When the sides failed to agree on a deal, Rose retired. The team that had won a title with Rose finished dead-last from 2002 through 2004. Rose himself spent a lot of that time coaching high school baseball in Colorado.
Rose's .325 career batting average is third best in Nippon Pro Baseball history, trailing only Ichiro Suzuki and Hanshin first baseman Randy Bass among those with 2,000 or more AB. His OBP was .402 and his slugging was .531 and he was clearly the top 2B of the 90s in Japan and the top 2B in Yokohama history.
In 2003, Rose attempted to make a comeback with the Chiba Lotte Marines but found that his family didn't like living in Chiba after previously loving Yokohama and that he just no longer had his heart in competing as he once did and retired.
Primary sources: Japanbaseballdaily.com, 1986-1993 Baseball Almanacs