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Julio, Jarred and daring to dream – again
This is fun. Let's keep doing this.
It’s wild how, when two memories are tied together, it’s much easier to remember the combination. You remember one part and you remember the other—but you’d never remember one or both of those individual things on their own.
My brother Conner takes it to another level and combines something like dropping a sibling off for college with, I don’t know, a vivid recall of a specific and relatively-inconsequential early-season college football matchup from more than a decade ago.
For me, when players have good games against bad teams and you start to wonder how much it means, I think of a 2010 post by Jeff Sullivan on Lookout Landing recapping a game featuring heroics from—OH MY GOD as I went to Google it thinking it was about Stefan Romero, it was actually about…—Matt Tuiasosopo.
Yes. The 2010 Mariners moved to 47-73 with a 4-0 win over the Orioles as Tuiasosopo drove in all four runs on a home run and a double. The double, absurdly, was off Kevin Millwood. The 2010 Orioles lost 96 games. The Mariners, 101.
In the post, Jeff goes on to note that while we often understand it’s easier to beat bad teams, we also tend to gloss over the difficulty when players have big games against bad teams.
It’s honestly not even that relevant—I just always think of it when this happens. And this was the first intro I thought of and we’re 200 words in and we’ll just let that ride.
Last week, the Mariners took to the 2023 Oakland Athletics like the FCS squad a better-than-average Pac 12 football team schedules in week two.
In the series opener, Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodríguez went 6-for-8, HR, 2B, BB, 4 RBI.
While this is my first season in a bit back writing, I have at least tweeted “That’s what it’s supposed to look like” in the context of, like, a Spring Training game. And playing these Oakland Athletics feels like a half-rung above the Cactus League—but that is what it’s supposed to look like.
It happened again yesterday, on a sun-drenched afternoon in SoDo. This time, it was Julio with the home run and Jarred with the RBI double.
I mentioned above that Jeff’s post isn’t super relevant and not only because it’s 13 years old and about a game started by Luke French, but because Julio Rodríguez and Jarred Kelenic are not Matt Tuiasosopo. Obviously.
If the Mariners are going go where we want them to go, it will involve a lot more combined lines like we’ve seen over the past seven days. The last time the Mariners had a heart of the order as potent as what Julio and Jarred could be, it was Robbie and Nellie.
As freaking awesome as those two were—like in 2016 when Robbie posted an almost seven-win season with 39 bombs and a 139 wRC+ to with Nellie’s 43 homers and 148 mark—age and trajectory are important.
I mean, sign me up for those offensive numbers from JK and JRod in any season, but the great teams have core guys entering or within their primes who do that for years.
He is far from infallible but I liked Jeff Passan’s take on the duo.
Okay, I liked the, uh, opinion. The phrasing and analogy was a little weird.
Bananas aren’t even very good unless you’re eating one before some athletic event to ward off cramps. Shoutout, fellow cross country kids.
I think we’d all agree with Passan’s take on Julio. When he’s on one, as he appears to be now, there are few players in the sport who are clearly better.
With Kelenic, “the way he’s playing this year” is, as of late, a little less definable. For a stretch there, he looked like the version of the player we all dreamed on when he was one of a handful of the best prospects in the game—even above the 130 wRC+, 4-5 win guy I think we’d all happily take.
While I’m not going to dive deep (yet) on Kelenic and what’d be fair to call his recent struggles, I want add a little bit of perspective.
I’ve started taking a liking to looking at guys’ rolling numbers. It’s not just “How are they on the season?” or over a single awkwardly-defined stretch, but how they look over their last 15 games, all season long. Basically, how consistent are they? How high are the highs? How low are the lows?
The last bit is most relevant here. Here’s a look at just how low some of the lows have been for Kelenic since his debut.
There are slumps, and then there is a double-digit negative wRC+ over a two-week span.
Guys have slumps. It happens. You’d prefer for a dude’s slump to be higher even than that low-point of Jarred’s 57 this year—but it could be a lot worse. It has been a lot worse.
For now, it’s fair to dream on what this team—its present and its future—looks like if Julio is Julio and Jarred is indeed the guy we’ve seen this year.
I said it last year and mentioned it in a previous post but the Mariners needed new best players. I love these guys to death but you can’t be great and have your best players be Mitch Haniger and Kyle Seager. Or Ty France and Eugenio Suárez, now on the wrong side of 30.
But Good Jarred Kelenic and Great Julio Rodríguez? That will play.
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Mariners fans, for now, can dream on that again. Yesterday is what it looks like.
Julio and Jarred can be the bedrock of this lineup. When they are, and then you add on a big-time knock from your one of your second-tier of players—like Geno punching a pinhole in the bluest skies you’ll ever see—it’s what pushes you over the top.
The Mariners, still, are a long way from the top. But they’re closer to it than they were 10 days ago.
Keep on climbing, fellas.