J-Rod generating buzz for potential ASG nod

July 5th, 2022

SAN DIEGO -- Mariners wunderkind Julio Rodríguez certainly is playing like an All-Star, both in statistical performance and style points.

But will he be an All-Star?

Rodríguez, 21, was not among the American League outfield finalists for Phase 2 of All-Star voting, which opened on Tuesday. First baseman Ty France is Seattle’s lone finalist. But with his ever-growing star power, Rodríguez is generating plenty of buzz about being added to the AL squad when the backups are named.

“Who would not like to play in the All-Star Game?” Rodríguez asked. “You tell me. Who would not like to play in the All-Star Game?"

One need not dig deep to come up with an argument for Rodríguez earning an All-Star spot as a rookie. In traditional stats, he entered Tuesday among AL outfield leaders in batting average (.275, sixth), hits (84, second), doubles (16, tied for seventh), home runs (15, tied for fifth), RBIs (43, tied for sixth), stolen bases (20, first), slugging (.489, fourth), OPS (.824, fourth) and runs scored (47, tied for third).

For those who prefer the Statcast metrics, J-Rod rates highly in average exit velocity (top nine percent in MLB), hard-hit percentage (top eight percent), barrel percentage (top nine percent), sprint speed (top three percent) and outs above average on defense (top seven percent).

Rodríguez on Tuesday was named the AL Player of the Week. And on Monday, he completed his first 81 MLB games played with 15 homers and 20 steals, becoming the quickest in AL/NL history to reach both marks.

“[He] maybe was on the fence a couple weeks ago, but he’s been so good,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “He’s one of the better players in the game right now, based on how he’s played in recent times. His numbers look pretty good. I think he’s an All-Star.”

Rodríguez finished 12th among AL outfielders in the early balloting, understandable as he was just making a name for himself in the big leagues. But if the All-Star Game is a showcase, he certainly has the kind of talent worthy of display.

His home run into the third deck of Petco Park’s Western Metal Supply Co. building on Monday was one example of his prodigious talent, as he was able to drive an inside changeup that would tie up most hitters.

If Rodríguez doesn’t get an All-Star nod, the Home Run Derby is another option. But he doesn’t share the same enthusiasm for that possibility.

"I don’t know about [the] Home Run Derby, honestly. I don’t know,” Rodríguez said. “I haven’t had that experience. We’ll see about that.”

The very topic of the Derby may have unearthed a so-called weakness in the rookie’s game.

“He can’t hit home runs in BP. He can’t do it,” said Servais, who regularly tosses batting practice to him. “He’s not good at it. He shouldn’t do it.”