With 25th HR, J-Rod records an impressive MLB first

September 4th, 2023

CINCINNATI -- on Monday added another major milestone to a resume that is quickly becoming full of them.

Fresh off earning his first career American League Player of the Month nod, Rodríguez ripped a homer to right-center field during the fourth inning of the eventual 6-3 loss to the Reds that put him into the MLB record books: He's the first player to register at least 25 homers and 25 steals in each of his first two seasons.

The 22-year-old has a rare combination of power, speed and youth, as only eight others have managed at least that many homers and steals in one of their first two years in The Show.

Rodríguez’s 25th blast was among his most majestic of 2023, a 411-foot solo shot against a 95.4 mph middle-middle fastball from Reds righty Daniel Duarte that back-spun its way well beyond the right-center-field wall at Great American Ball Park.

He’s also racked up 36 steals, putting him in position to possibly become the fourth player with a 25-40 year in his age-22 season or younger, along with Alex Rodriguez in 1998 (42 homers, 46 steals), César Cedeño in 1973 (25 homers, 56 steals) and Mike Trout in 2012 (30 homers, 49 stolen bases).

Earlier on Monday, Rodríguez discussed being named the Mariners’ first AL Player of the Month since Nelson Cruz in April 2015. 

“It’s definitely been a lot of work, but a lot of team effort, too, that we were all in together,” Rodríguez said. “It was pretty cool. It was a pretty cool month, and I'm just looking forward to keep building on to it.”

In August, he led all qualified AL hitters in hits (45), doubles (10), RBIs (30), stolen bases (11), batting average (.429), on-base percentage (.474), slugging percentage (.724) and OPS (1.198). He also crushed seven homers and recorded 13 multihit games during the month, including six games with at least three and five with at least four.

Rodríguez’s rise to being arguably the Majors’ hottest hitter over the past month has coincided with the Mariners thrusting themselves into a tie for first place in the AL West.

“I was recognized, but it was a whole team effort,” Rodríguez said. “It’s not just me. It takes all of us to win. I feel like that’s what’s really cool about our team. It’s not just one guy, and I feel like everybody’s feeding off what we all got going on.”

Unfortunately for the Mariners, he displayed his power in a less consequential sequence than when he struck out in the seventh and ninth innings, both with runners on and two outs. The latter was for a called punchout that ended the game and left him in visible frustration towards home-plate umpire Marvin Hudson, who earlier in the at-bat called a pitch near the same location a ball. Both were four-seam fastballs from reliever Ian Gibaut.

“It has been dynamic. It's been awesome to watch,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said of Rodríguez’s latest milestone. “We need more of it. That's what you need to do on the road. Again, we haven't played great on this trip so far. We just haven't played as clean as we're used to playing. And that's the key.”