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It's good to be Julio Rodríguez
It's pretty good to watch him, too.
Julio Rodríguez is 22 years old. He has 1104 plate appearances across 250 games. He is my favorite Seattle Mariner of all time.
I mentioned in a post recently that this publication is, first and foremost, a blog. It’s mostly personal musings on the baseball team I cheer for, the things they do and the various characters they employ.
So you were probably overdue to get a few hundred words from this dude in his mid-30s gushing about his favorite baseball player. And a favorite baseball player who hasn’t even played two full seasons.
How is Julio Rodríguez so cool? God, he’s cool.
After Thursday’s superstar masterclass, Aaron Goldsmith used the line in the title of this post.
It is good to be Julio Rodríguez.
It’s fun to say and to think because it’s fun to pretend. Imagine being this guy.
Before even reaching your mid-20s, your entire professional career is laid out in front of you—with hundreds of millions of dollars coming your way. You are one of the faces of the league you dreamed of playing in. You capably rise to meet and exceed expectations at the game’s highest level. You are beloved.
It’s surreal to ponder, but the reality is nearly as dreamlike.
We’ve been following this kid for years. Since before he played a game in this country. We fantasized about what he could become, and he’s become exactly that.
And it’s just like…really? We’re really doing this?
This 17-year-old kid I came back from Arizona gushing about, my buddy’s making sick-ass art of him and he’s resharing it after giving the big club a piggyback ride to a series win in the heart of a playoff chase.
Subscribe for free and still get everything or go paid to buy me a $5 High Life at the ballpark.
He is everything—and it’s good to have this version of him back.
Since the start of July, only seven players in the game have been better by fWAR. He’s running a .326/.379/.531 line over that time, good for a 154 wRC+. It isn’t inconceivable that he, standing at 4.3 fWAR now, clears the 5.4 fWAR mark he put up last year. Especially with the way he’s trending right now.
This isn’t going to be a deep analytical post on exactly what’s spurred his change in fortune, but the trend line is funny. Julio, as good as he’s been, is not as hot as he’s ever been.
That was, well, let me show you.
I guess it only makes sense for a chart about the heartbeat of the organization to look like a reading off an EKG machine.
It wouldn’t be surprising in the slightest to see another pulse like we saw at the end of last year.
Julio’s different. One of one.
It’s been humorous then to see him deliver clutch knock after clutch knock after clutch knock despite some late-inning woes earlier this season.
I write it now as I tweeted then, I know those high leverage results were frustrating—but they weren’t predictive. Guys play how they play. Sometimes the random number generator that is this sport shuffles things in a way that doesn’t make sense, and sometimes there are real issues to overcome, but guys like Julio find their level.
That’s why it was hard to ever to be too frustrated at an untimely strikeout with runners in scoring position late. It was a bummer, but it wouldn’t last. It didn’t last.
Julio Rodríguez is an undeniable force.
It’s been a long time since Mariners fans could cheer for a player like this. Most teams don’t have a guy like this.
Where we are is just the start, of course. But it’s a great start. An uncanny start.
Every now and then, you have to pause to savor it, to gush about it. He is so damn fun to watch—and he’s doing it for a team that, because he and others have started down what look to be impressive careers, can make some real noise.
Nobody’s game, though, is louder than Julio’s.
What a joy that orchestra of power, speed and ambition is to listen to.