History made: J-Rod is fastest to 25 HRs, 25 steals

21-year-old becomes 1st player in MLB history to join 25-25 club in debut season

September 15th, 2022

SEATTLE -- Julio Rodríguez’s epic rookie season has reached record territory.

Seattle’s star center fielder swiped his 25th stolen base during the fifth inning of the Mariners' 6-1 win in the series finale against San Diego on Wednesday afternoon, which, coupled with his 26th homer -- which he pummeled in the first inning -- made him just the third rookie in MLB history with a 25-25 season. He also became the fastest player to 25 homers and 25 steals (125 games) in an MLB career, topping Mike Trout's record of 128.

Rodríguez joined the D-backs’ Chris Young (2007) and Trout ('12) as the only rookies to reach the milestone, but those two did so having debuted the year prior. That makes Rodríguez the first player to achieve the feat in his first year outright. 

“I don't see myself as a rookie,” Rodríguez said. “I see myself as a player like anybody else, and I'm just happy to be able to deliver for the team."

Rodríguez was in position for stolen base No. 25 by reaching first base after taking a 91.2 mph fastball off his right pectoral muscle from Mike Clevinger. In obvious pain, he was examined by Mariners head athletic trainer Kyle Torgerson and manager Scott Servais, but he remained in the game and took off just two pitches later.

The speedster dialed his sprint speed up to 30.0 feet per second -- right at the elite threshold and well above the league average of 27 -- reaching second base in just 3.82 seconds while sliding headfirst. Rodríguez has a 29.7 average sprint speed this season, tied for 14th fastest in MLB this year.

After reaching, the Mariners paid tribute to the accomplishment on the T-Mobile Park scoreboard, at which point Rodríguez thumped his chest and acknowledged the crowd, brandishing his arm across the team nameplate on the cream-colored jersey that read "Marineros" in honor of Hispanic Heritage Day.

“Everything I do, every single stat I put up, I just do it for the team,” Rodríguez said. “I feel I'm not trying to put myself above anybody. I just want to be able to perform for the team."

“It’s fantastic to watch a young player take off like that, as talented as he is,” Servais said. “But for me, one of the coolest things I've seen in a while is when he's standing at second base after 25th stolen base, and the crowd's on its feet, and they put the thing on the scoreboard, and he flashes across his chest -- it's about the Mariners. That's Julio Rodríguez.”

Rodríguez was on his way to the milestone earlier in the game, taking off from first base in the second inning, but he was doubled up on an infield lineout by Ty France. Had France not swung, Rodríguez likely would’ve reached in time.

It seemed like an inevitable benchmark given the way Rodríguez had been running and homering in the first half, but it took maybe longer than most envisioned after he slowed his roll on the basepaths in the second half. He ranked third in MLB with 22 stolen bases before the All-Star break, but he has just three since, and part of that is by design.

The two main factors why:

• Rodríguez jammed his right wrist on a headfirst slide in the final game of the first half, an injury that was exacerbated after competing in the Home Run Derby and forced him to miss the first four games of the second half. There’s always a risk in steal attempts, given their bang-bang nature, and Rodríguez has been more cognizant of that.

“We want to be smart,” Servais said earlier this season. “He’s a really important part of our team. He will continue to steal bases. It’s just not going to be with reckless abandon like it was early on.”

• The book, so to speak, is now out on Rodríguez. Virtually no one, including Servais, knew how fast he was entering this season, which allowed him to exploit that strength with no scouting reports on his speed. That’s obviously changed.

“When Julio gets on base, he gets every [pitcher’s] quickest time, because they know he’s our biggest threat to steal bases,” Servais said.

Servais said that Rodríguez always has the green light, and that he’ll still run when the opportunity presents itself. So there is some calculus as to why his numbers are down -- but as Wednesday showed, he’s still a huge threat to steal, and now, there’s historical context to back it.

Rodríguez is the frontrunner for the AL Rookie of the Year Award with many statistical accolades, plus the fact that he’s been arguably the best player on a team on pace to reach the postseason.