At this point, it’s far from breaking news, but something tells me we should all get used to using this phrase.
Say it with me now: Julio Rodríguez, All-Star.
He’s the youngest All-Star this season, the sixth rookie in Mariners history to be elected to the All-Star Game and the team’s first rookie representative since Michael Pineda in 2011. Rodríguez’s All-Star nod is just the latest feather in the young outfielder’s cap - last week he was recognized with Player of the Week honors, earned back-to-back Player of the Month honors in May and June, and became the fastest player to reach 15+ home runs and 10+ stolen bases. With this ASG selection, he finds himself in uniquely elite company.
Only 5 athletes in the Big Four sports over the last 20 years have won an Olympic medal & made an All-Star team by age 21:— Alex Mayer (@alexmayer34) July 11, 2022
Julio Rodríguez ⚾️ pic.twitter.com/iK8GxDLySE
Rodríguez is, of course, no stranger to the pageantry of the Mid-Summer Classic. Last year he was named to the Futures Game, and was able to talk with some of the game’s big stars, but this year he’ll be surrounded all weekend by baseball’s current legends. And for a player like Julio, who seemingly soaks up everything like a sponge, time with some of his childhood heroes is sure to be a highlight. As for what these All-Star honors mean for other awards down the road, it can only bode well - particularly since neither Bobby Witt Jr. nor Jeremy Peña, widely regarded as the two other top contenders for AL ROY, were named to the All-Star roster.
Julio’s first half has been nothing short of transcendent. He’s slashing .274/.335/.480 with 15 homers, 17 doubles, two triples and 21 stolen bases in his first 85 games of the season. Still just 21 years old, among AL outfielders he ranks top-five in fWAR, stolen bases, hits and wRC+. He has played at a level Mariners fans could only dream about at the start of the season.
To watch Julio play baseball is, quite simply, a gift. He plays with his heart on his jauntily-patterned sleeve, and his openness sparks a unique joy and connection forged between himself and fans. How often is it that a player’s reactions so vividly reflect those of the fans in their seats? Yesterday in the top of the ninth you could see it perfectly as he settled under Alejandro Kirk’s fly ball, feet prance-marching in place as he caught and threw the ball back in, the glee visibly reverberating from his body.
“It’s like a dream,” Rodríguez told reporters of his All-Star selection. Mariners fans certainly feel the same way about watching you play, Julio.