Certain, Kyle Lewis was the 2020 AL Rookie of the 12 months. However two-plus years after debuting within the majors, it stays unclear whether or not the Mercer alum is a future star or one thing else for the Mariners.
The identical can’t be stated about Seager’s North Carolina teammate chosen second total in the identical draft – Dustin Ackley. Sadly, he was by no means in a position to repeat his sturdy rookie marketing campaign earlier than ultimately leaving the group 4 years later in 2015. In a way, Ackley embodies what Seattle followers have come to anticipate from the group’s prime place participant prospects during the last twenty years.
Not a lot.
Hype with out the outcomes from their prospects grew to become the Mariners’ model within the 21st century. Mike Zunino, Justin Smoak, Jeff Clement, Brad Miller, Nick Franklin, D.J. Peterson, and Alex Jackson are examples of names more likely to nonetheless stir sturdy emotional responses from long-time followers of the group.
Then there’s Julio.
Via his first 76 MLB video games, Rodríguez has 15 doubles, 12 residence runs with a .272/.331/.456 slash-line and 19 stolen bases. Not solely that, he’s boasting a 129 OPS+, which suggests he’s 29% higher than the common big-league hitter this season.
On-base Plus Slugging Plus (OPS+) is a normalized model of OPS that adjusts for park and league circumstances. OPS+ is scaled so 100 is all the time league-average. Consequently, an OPS+ of 150 means a hitter was 50-percent extra productive than the common participant. An 80 OPS+ can be 20-percent under common.
In accordance with Baseball Reference, Rodríguez’s 2.7 Wins Above Alternative (bWAR) ties him for 21st most dear place participant within the majors with recognizable names similar to Trea Turner, Luis Arraez, Byron Buxton, and Bryce Harper. Spectacular for a 21-year-old.
On the Mariners, Rodríguez ranks close to the highest in each vital offensive class. He’s second solely to Eugenio Suarez in doubles (16) and residential runs (13) and Ty France in AVG (.316), SLG (.476), OPS+ (153) and bWAR (3.0). That’s extraordinary contemplating Julio was the sufferer of an inordinate quantity of incorrect known as third strike calls in the course of the first month of the season.
Once we distinction Rodríguez to different 2022 freshman, his stats are close to the top of the category. The native of Loma de Cabrera, Dominican Republic is tied for the rookie lead in residence runs with Jack Suwinski. He’s additionally runner-up amongst first-year gamers to Bobby Witt in doubles (16), Brendan Donovan in OPS+ (145), Jon Berti in stolen bases (21), and Jeremy Peña in bWAR (3.1).
As issues stands right this moment, Julio is a clear-cut AL Rookie of the 12 months frontrunner. Not solely that, he’s a possible consultant for the Mariners at 2022 All-Star sport.
A particular Mariner
Okay, we’ve established Rodríguez is considered one of Seattle’s greatest gamers and a top-shelf rookie this season. With this in thoughts, let’s have enjoyable by doing a couple of comps of Julio to nice younger gamers from the previous. First up, the 21-year-old’s standing amongst first-year Mariners utilizing bWAR. He’s wanting fairly, fairly good.
It’s vital to notice just one participant on the previous checklist was youthful than Rodríguez – Corridor of Famer Ken Griffey Jr.. Everybody else was 22-or-older. On prime of that, Ichiro (27) and Kenji Johjima (30) had been established professionals in Japan after they first debuted as Mariners.
One thing else to think about. WAR is a counting stat very similar to hits, doubles, stolen bases, residence runs, RBI, and so forth. Barring one thing catastrophic taking place, Rodríguez probably leapfrogs Griffey and Ackley on our bWAR checklist within the close to future. If he continues acting at his present tempo, Julio has an opportunity of catching Mr. Mariner, Alvin Davis. Surpassing Ichiro could also be a bridge too far although.
Then once more, by no means say by no means.
Once we flip our consideration to the OPS+ of first-year Mariners with 300-plus plate appearances, Rodríguez’s identify as soon as once more seems close to the highest of the checklist. This time, solely Mr. Mariner beats out Julio.
If you happen to’re questioning why Álex Rodríguez, Edgar Martinez, and Seager didn’t make the reduce, their first 300 plate appearances had been cut up over a number of seasons. Our focus has been on first-year gamers instantly delivering outcomes, as Julio has executed to date.
So younger, so good
Coming into right this moment, Rodríguez is considered one of simply six 21-year-olds to play within the majors this yr. Nobody youthful has suited up in 2022. Not but, at the very least. With this in thoughts, let’s contemplate how Julio compares to earlier gamers debuting on the similar age. It seems, he fares very nicely amongst some very notable names.
Since World Battle II, Rodríguez’s 2.7 bWAR is seventh greatest amongst first-year 21-year-old place gamers.
Greatest First-12 months bWAR By A 21-12 months-Outdated
Albert Pujols (6.6)
Richie Ashburn (4.7)*
Cody Bellinger (3.9)
Curt Blefary (3.6)
Eddie Murray (3.2)*
Rocco Baldelli (2.9)
Rod Carew (2.8)*
Julio Rodríguez (2.7)
Addison Russell (2.7)
Paul Molitor (2.7)*
*Corridor of Famer
Not everybody listed above panned out in the long term. However all issues thought of, that is a formidable checklist. Included are 4 Corridor of Famers, plus a future first-ballot choice – Albert Pujols. And let’s not overlook 2017 NL Rookie of the 12 months and 2019 NL MVP Cody Bellinger.
Once we evaluate the OPS+ of our choose group of 21-year-olds, we uncover solely seven boast an OPS+ higher than 120. Naturally, Julio is considered one of them.
*Corridor of Famers
Presently, Rodríguez’s 19 stolen bases rank 43rd all-time amongst rookies. It’s extremely inconceivable he comes anyplace close to the MLB file of 110 set by Vince Coleman or Ichiro’s Seattle franchise mark (56). Then again, swiping 30 baggage would tie Julio with Corridor of Famer Paul Molitor and Nori Aoki for 15th most by a freshman.
Having stated that, I’m drawn again Rodríguez’s youth and early success. Once we focus solely on 21-year-old first-year gamers, Julio’s 19 stolen bases look spectacular.
Most Stolen Bases By 21-12 months-Outdated First-12 months Gamers
Delino DeShields (42)
Barry Bonds (36)
Richie Ashburn (32)
Paul Molitor (30)
Rocco Baldelli (27)
Mike Caruso (22)
Carney Lansford (20)
Julio Rodríguez (19)
Darryl Strawberry (19)
José Tabata (19)
Once more, don’t overlook Rodríguez has a whopping 76 video games on his big-league résumé. His stolen base tally will develop. That stated, Julio’s tempo might sluggish because the season progresses. Particularly if his base working bases begins to take a toll on his physique and bat. Nonetheless, catching Delino DeShields isn’t fully outdoors the realm of the potential for Seattle’s budding famous person.
Within the energy division, Rodríguez’s 12 residence runs could not appear imposing on the floor. However the right-handed hitter didn’t file his first homer till his 21st sport that means he’s hit 12 dingers in 55 contests. Maybe Julio doesn’t problem the rookie file of 53 dingers held by Pete Alonso. However a run at Seattle’s franchise mark (27) set by Davis is actual risk.
A vivid future awaits
To be clear, Rodríguez isn’t the perfect teenager to ever emerge on the scene. That’s very clear throughout an period that’s seen younger studs Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Carlos Correa, Manny Machado, Juan Soto, Ronald Acuña Jr., and Fernando Tatis Jr. have signature years earlier than reaching their age-21 season.
Nonetheless, what Julio is doing is particular.
He’s a Mariner.
Except Félix Hernández, the Mariners followers haven’t had a younger participant as particular as Julio because the days of Junior and A-Rod. And keep in mind, King Félix debuted the majors in 2005. The years have been lengthy and lean within the Emerald Metropolis ever since.
The Mariners’ entrance workplace is not run by Invoice Bavasi or Jack Zduriencik. Whereas it’s true Seattle hasn’t reached the postseason below present GM Jerry Dipoto, his regime has executed one thing neither Bavasi nor Zduriencik might accomplish throughout their 12 mixed seasons on the helm. Discover and develop a participant possessing the expertise and charisma to develop into the face of Seattle’s baseball franchise.
And that’s the place Julio enters the image.
My Oh My…
Luke is a local New Yorker, who grew up as a Mets fan. After the US Navy moved him to the Pacific Northwest in 2009, he determined to make Seattle his residence.
In 2014, Luke joined the Prospect Insider group. Throughout baseball season, he can typically be discovered observing the native group at T-Cell Park.
You may observe Luke on Twitter @luke_arkins