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Julio Rodriguez

Julio Rodriguez appears primed for 30-30 club

Reigning AL Rookie of the Year has speed and power for 30-30 club

The Seattle Mariners had not seen a player as electrifying as Julio Rodriguez since Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. The 2022 American League Rookie of the Year had an unforgettable season, and 2023 might be even better.

Now that Major League Baseball has added some new rules, Rodriguez may be primed to be a 30-30 superstar. He could be the first Mariners player in 25 years to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in the same season. 

The 30-30 mark is one of MLB’s rare accomplishments. It showcases a player’s power and speed. Orioles outfielder Cedric Mullins was the most recent player to join the 30-30 club in 2021.

Larger bases may help Julio Rodriguez

Thanks to the larger bases, perhaps as many as five players can join Mullins in the 30-30 club in 2023. Rodriguez and speedsters like Bobby Witt Jr. Ronald Acuña Jr., will surely be excited about the larger bases and the new rule limiting pitchers to two pickoff attempts.

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The bases will now be 18 by 18 inches compared to the traditional 15 by 15. The larger bases could lead to a huge increase in stolen base attempts. It could challenge more players to use their speed. 

Alex Rodriguez became the first Mariners player in the 30-30 club in 1998. No Seattle player has joined him. Julio Rodríguez was not too far away from the 30-30 mark last season. He hit 28 home runs and stole 25 bases.

Projections look good for Julio Rodriguez

For the upcoming season, Fangraphs projected Rodríguez to hit 30 home runs and swipe 29 bags. He was caught stealing in only seven of his 32 attempts last season.

“Rodríguez could run more this season,” Mariners manager Scott Servais told Corey Brock of The Athletic. 

The 6-foot-3 Rodríguez finished last season with a slash line of .284/.345/.509 with an .853 OPS, 25 doubles and, 75 RBIs. He also posted a 6.2 WAR, 147 OPS+, 146 wRC+, and a .366 wOBA. Those stats show how much of a difference maker he is. 

He entered the season last year as the No. 3 prospect in baseball. Then he helped the M’s clinch an AL Wild Card berth, ending a 21-year postseason drought.

The Mariners traveled to Canada and defeated the Toronto Blue Jays in the Wild Card round. They were swept by the Astros in the Division Series. That series was much closer than the sweep would appear, though.

The Dominican signed a long-term contract extension with the Mariners for 12 years and $210 million. The contract can max out at $470 million with player and club options included, potentially making it the richest deal in MLB history.

A memorable 2022 season for J-Rod

J-Rod made the most of his first All-Star berth last July. He was the runner-up to Juan Soto during the Derby at Dodger Stadium. Rodríguez became the second participant in Home Run Derby history to have the second most home runs with 81.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. holds the most with 91 in 2019.

Julio Rodríguez stole his 25th base of the season in mid September against the Padres to join the 25 home runs and 25 stolen bases club. J-Rod joined Andrew Jones, Mike Trout, and Acuña Jr. as the fourth player to record a 25-25 season at the age of 21.

He also became the third and fastest rookie in history to reach 25 home runs and 25 stolen bases in 125 games. Trout did it in 128 games his rookie season. Rodríguez also collected some hardware at the end of the season.

J-Rod joined Aaron Judge and Trout among the AL’s outfield Silver Slugger award winners. He was the first Mariners rookie to win a Silver Slugger since Ichiro Suzuki in 2001. 

The 22-year-old received the AL Rookie of the Year award, over Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman and Guardians outfielder Steven Kwan. He was also an All-MLB Second Team selection, joining outfielders Kyle Schwarber and Kyle Tucker.

Could the 30-30 club be next? We think it will. 

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