Seattle Mariners’ Julio Rodriguez named AL Rookie of the Year

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Julio Rodriguez, the dynamic young center fielder of the Seattle Mariners, was named American League Rookie of the Year by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America on Monday, surpassing Baltimore Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman and Cleveland Guardians left fielder Steven Kwan.

Rodriguez received 29 of 30 first place votes and a second for 148 points from a panel from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Rutschman placed second with one first place, 18 second places and nine third places. Kwan placed third with Royals infielder Bobby Witt Jr., Astros shortstop Jeremy Pena and Mariners pitcher George Kirby also receiving votes.

Rodriguez thrilled the city of Seattle and captivated an entire nation of baseball fans with his youthful exuberance, distinct swagger, and wide-ranging talent. At age 21, he hit .284/.345/.509 with 28 home runs, 25 stolen bases, and 25 doubles as he propelled the Mariners to their first postseason berth since 2001, completing the longest active drought among four major North American professional sports breakthrough.

Along the way, Rodriguez consistently came through in big places, dazzling with his defense, power and speed. His 5.3 FanGraphs wins over replacement tied Rutschman for the rookie lead and was led by only 21 position players in all of the sport.

Rodriguez is the fifth Mariners player to win Rookie of the Year, after Alvin Davis (1984), Kazuhiro Sasaki (2000), Ichiro Suzuki (2001) and Kyle Lewis (2020).

Only two other players since 1900 have accumulated at least 28 home runs, 25 stolen bases and 25 doubles in their seasons aged 21 or under: Mike Trout and Andruw Jones. Rodriguez is the first player ever to combine 25 home runs with 25 stolen bases in his first season in the major leagues and the third to do so while still qualifying as a rookie, along with Trout and Chris Young, according to research from ESPN Stats & Information.

Rutschman finished with a .254/.362/.445 slash to go along with 13 homers and 35 doubles as he handled the rigors from behind home plate. Widely expected to finish last in the hyper-competitive AL East, the Orioles started the 2022 season 16-24, but went 67-55 after Rutschman’s debut on May 21, nearly making the playoffs .

Already one of the most proficient hitters in the sport, Kwan hit .298/.373/.400 with 168 hits, the most by a Cleveland rookie in the expansion era (since 1961). The only player in the majors with a higher contact percentage last season was Minnesota Twins infielder Luis Arraez, who won the AL batting title.

The Mariners saw Rodriguez as a potential star when they signed him from the Dominican Republic for $1.75 million in the summer of 2017, but he positioned himself more as a power-hitting outfielder. Rodriguez worked to make himself a five-instrument midfielder, whizzing through the Mariners’ minor league system — despite losing an entire season to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic — and opening day of the season this spring. team cracked.

Rodriguez struggled mightily in his first month, posting a .544 OPS during that stretch, but he recovered enough to make the All-Star team and eventually put on a showing during the Home Run Derby from Dodger Stadium.

Less than two months later, the Mariners awarded him a long-term extension that will pay him between $210 million and $470 million over his career, an unprecedented — and highly incentivized — contract for someone with less than a year. full year of major league service.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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