Julio mashes way to Seattle's 10th 20-20 season

August 25th, 2022

SEATTLE -- The accomplishment was inevitable, but now that Julio Rodríguez has achieved a 20-20 season, perspective permeates a little more.

The Mariners’ standout center fielder crushed his 20th homer of the season in their 3-1 loss on Wednesday afternoon at T-Mobile Park, a 400-foot, game-tying solo homer in the eighth inning. Paired with his 23 stolen bases, it put him into more historical territory in his bid for the AL Rookie of the Year Award.

A breakdown on the historical context of Rodríguez joining the 20-20 club:

• It’s just the 10th 20-20 season in Mariners history, which has been achieved by only five other players: Ruppert Jones (1979), Phil Bradley ('85), Alex Rodríguez ('97-99), Ken Griffey Jr. ('98-99) and Mike Cameron (2001-02).

• Getting there in 107 games, Rodríguez passed Mike Trout (112 games) as the fastest player in AL history to achieve the feat.

• Only three other AL/NL rookies have achieved a 20-20 season in their first year in the big leagues: Mitchell Page (1977 A’s), Ellis Burks ('87 Red Sox) and Marty Cordova ('85 Twins).

• Rodríguez is just the ninth player 21 or younger to have a 20-20 season, joining Vada Pinson (twice, 1959-60), Orlando Cepeda ('59), César Cedeño ('72), Alex Rodríguez ('97), Andruw Jones ('98), Justin Upton (2009), Mike Trout (twice, '12-13) and Ronald Acuña Jr. ('19).

• Only one other player has done so this season: Rangers outfielder Adolis García, who got there one night prior in Denver.

“I’m happy about it,” Rodríguez said. “Not a lot of people do it all the time, but I’m really happy about it.”

Rodríguez’s 20th homer was a trademark blast from the rookie, off a hanging curveball above the strike zone from Nats reliever Carl Edwards Jr. in an 0-1 count. It was also at a critical moment, with the Mariners trailing -- and scoreless -- with two outs in the eighth inning.

Despite his youth and experience of just 107 career games, Rodríguez has thrived in these high-leverage moments throughout the season. 

“It’s a heck of an achievement,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “I think, knowing Julio, what means more to him is that it was a big home run. It wasn’t one of those where you’re up by four or five or you’re down by three or four. In a big moment, he got a pitch he could handle and didn’t miss it. And that’s what Julio is about. He’s a winner.”

The power coming into Rodríguez’s career was perhaps expected, with most scouting reports suggesting that he had 30-plus-homer potential, if not more, when he reached his prime. It’s the speed that’s been the bigger surprise, but even that secret has been out since the All-Star break. 

“I feel like a lot of people were underestimating me and some aspects of my game, because they didn’t know,” Rodríguez said. “Now that I’m able to do it right here and right now, I’m happy about it and proud of the work I put into the offseason to get to where I am.”

Rodríguez has said throughout this breakout season that he sets no limits for himself. He has just 38 games left to crush 10 more homers and steal seven bags to join the even more elusive 30-30 club. Can he do it?

“I mean, we’ve got some time,” Rodríguez said, smiling. “Maybe.”