Julio Rodriguez has been given the title of the 2022 American League Rookie of the Year. The 21-year old native of the Dominican Republic had one of the more notable recent inaugural campaigns. He led all rookies in the AL in home runs (28), SLG (.509), wRC+ (146), and tied for the league lead in fWAR (5.3). In terms of more advanced statistics, Rodriguez also led all AL rookies in wOBA (.366), isolated power (.225), and wRAA (25.1). All of this was part of a season that saw the Seattle Mariners make the postseason for the first time since 2001. In short, things couldn’t have gone better for the young superstar and his team.
The Career of Julio Rodriguez
The Mariners signed Julio Rodriguez out of the international pool in 2017. He quickly made an impact, hitting .315 in 59 games for the Rookie level Dominican Mariners in 2018. Finding more consistent playing time was merely a matter of jumping levels. Over 84 games in 2019 between Single-A West Virginia Power and Single-A Advanced Modesto Nuts, Rodriguez slashed .326/.390/.540 with an OPS of .929. At this point in his career, he was still discovering his power. However, he did manage to find his stroke, breaking double-digits in homers for the first time.
Due to the cancellation of minor league baseball in 2020, Rodriguez’s next step came in 2021. Once more, he jumped two levels in a single season. He began with the team’s other Single-A Advanced affiliate, the Everett AquaSox before heading to the Double-A Arkansas Travelers. It was here where he had, arguably, his best minor league performance. To be blunt, he put the rest of the Double-A Central League on notice. He laid down a blistering slash line of .362/.461/.546 with a mind boggling 1.007 OPS. Productivity wise, he showed signs of brilliance, putting forward 35 runs and 26 RBI in only 46 contests. The Mariners promoted him before 2022, and he has enjoyed immediate success, culminating in this award.
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