Most Influential

Sports: Julio Rodriguez

Mariners’ phenom led all rookies in virtually every offensive statistic last baseball year

By Danny O’Neil March 8, 2023

SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 15:  Julio Rodríguez #44 of the Seattle Mariners takes the field prior to the game between the Houston Astros and the Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Park on Saturday, October 15, 2022 in Seattle, Washington.

This article originally appeared in the January/February 2023 issue of Seattle magazine.

Julio Rodriguez is one of Seattle’s 25 most influential people reshaping our region. #mostinfluential  

At age 21, he was the youngest player at last year’s MLB All-Star Game and the runner-up in the Home Run Derby. He is strong and fast and plays baseball with an unmistakable enthusiasm.

He is Julio Rodriguez, the latest phenom to reach the Major Leagues for a franchise that has been pretty fortunate in that regard.

It’s a strange thing to think of the Mariners as fortunate, right? It took them 14 years before they notched their first winning season, and they are the only Major League franchise yet to reach a World Series. Last year — thanks in large part to Rodriguez — they reached the playoffs, ending a postseason drought that was almost old enough to drink legally. It was the longest active playoff drought in North American sports.

But Seattle has been undeniably blessed in one regard when it comes to baseball: prodigies. Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez and Felix Hernandez all debuted for the franchise as teenagers.

Last year, at the age of 21, Julio Rodriguez made his debut, becoming the fourth-youngest player in Mariners history. He became only the third rookie in baseball history to hit at least 25 home runs and steal 25 bases.

He was named to the All-Star Game, where he was the youngest player, and became the fifth player in franchise history to be named the American League Rookie of the Year. Rodriguez is Dominican, and when he returned to his hometown of Loma de Cabrera in November, he received a literal parade through the streets to celebrate his accomplishments.

Seattle’s ride is just beginning, though. Rodriguez signed a contract extension last year that allows the Mariners the option of keeping him on the team for the next 15 years at least.


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