Mariners star Rodriguez named AL Rookie of the Year

Mariners star Rodriguez named AL Rookie of the Year

Julio Rodriguez grew up in Loma de Cabrera, a small Dominican town of around 20,000 near the Haitian border. Before him, the only top baseball player was Rafael Furcal, an All-Star shortstop in the 2000s.

Rodriguez admired Furcal as a child. He remembers the parade that the city had organized for him and all the marching band that accompanied it. Now Rodriguez will have one of his own. When the Seattle Mariners’ dynamic young center fielder returns home this offseason, a parade will be held in his honor. It will be a vacation in his hometown.

“It’s going to be pretty exciting,” Rodriguez said with a smile. “I will definitely try to take advantage of it.”

Rodriguez was named the American League Rookie of the Year by near-unanimity on Monday, a befitting caption to an emotional campaign that has seen him dazzle at the Home Run Derby, perform among the sport’s top players and power the Mariners to a long-awaited success. trip to the playoffs.

Rodriguez received 29 of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s 30 first-place votes, with Baltimore Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman receiving the other. Cleveland Guardians left fielder Steven Kwan, Kansas City Royals left fielder Bobby Witt Jr. and Houston Astros shortstop Jeremy Pena finished third, fourth and fifth, respectively, in the voting.

Rodriguez, 21, electrified the city of Seattle and captivated an entire nation of baseball fans with his youthful exuberance, pronounced swagger and varied talent. He slashed .284/.345/.509, leading all rookies in homers (28), OPS (.855) and total bases (260) while helping the Mariners clinch their first playoff spot since 2001, breaking the longest active drought among the big four North American professional sports.

Along the way, Rodriguez has always stood out in the big points, dazzling with his defense, power and speed. His FanGraphs 5.3 wins over substitution tied Rutschman’s for the rookie lead and was only topped by 21 position players throughout the sport.

Rodriguez, who added 25 stolen bases and 25 doubles, is now the fifth Mariners player to win Rookie of the Year, following Alvin Davis (1984), Kazuhiro Sasaki (2000), Ichiro Suzuki (2001) and Kyle Lewis (2020).

Only two other players since 1900 have racked up at least 28 home runs, 25 stolen bases and 25 doubles in their seasons aged 21 or younger — Mike Trout and Andruw Jones. Rodriguez is the first player to combine 25 homers with 25 stolen bases in his first major league season and the third to do so while still eligible as a rookie, along with Trout and Chris Young, according to ESPN Stats & Research. Information.

The Mariners envisioned Rodriguez as a potential star when they signed him out of the Dominican Republic for $1.75 million in the summer of 2017, but he presented himself more as a hard-hitting corner fielder. Rodriguez has worked to transform into a five-tool center fielder, navigating the Mariners’ minor league system — despite losing an entire season to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 — and opening the roster for team for opening day this spring.

Before the end of August, the Mariners rewarded Rodriguez with a long-term extension that will net him between $210 million and $470 million over the life of his career, an unprecedented — and highly incentivized — contract for anyone. ‘one with less than a full year of major league service. But before all that came the fight. Rodriguez went homeless with a .544 OPS in his first month in the major leagues. But he recovered well enough to become the only rookie to make the All-Star team.

“I feel like that’s when I learned the most – on the lower parts,” Rodriguez said in a video conference call with media after winning the award. “That rough start at the start, every time I maybe wasn’t doing so well, all those things that happened that first year that kind of opened my eyes – I’m going to take it all. And I know It will serve me well in my career.”

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