Mariners young star Julio Rodríguez has surged in the second half and at the same time keyed his team’s climb up the standings. That’s more in keeping of what was expected from the 22-year-old fly-catcher, who wasn’t quite living up to expectations before the break coming off his ballyhooed arrival in the majors and a sparkling rookie campaign in 2022.
Speaking of J-Rod’s recent excellence and career to date, Seattle’s dominating 15-2 win over the Royals on Saturday occasioned a bit of franchise history for Rodríguez. It happened on this 410-foot homer in the fifth inning:
Just like Dave Sims told you, that’s J-Rod’s 50th career homer, and it came in just his 256th career game. As ESPN Stats & Info notes, that breaks Alex Rodriguez’s Mariners franchise record for fewest games needed to reach 50 career home runs. J-Rod breaks A-Rod’s 1997 record by an impressive 13-game margin.
Of course, (Julio) Rodríguez is no “mere” slugger and standout fielder in center. He’s also a threat on the bases, and as of Saturday he has 50 career home runs and 60 career stolen bases. He joins Ronald Acuña Jr. of the Braves as the only players in MLB history to reach 50 career homers and 50 career stolen bases within their first two MLB seasons.
But wait, there’s more! The inestimable Sarah Langs notes that Rodríguez is now the fastest to reach 50 homers and 60 stolen bases in a career. His 256 games to reach those marks breaks Eric Davis’ previous record of 258 games. Needless to say, J-Rod’s start to his MLB career has gone swimmingly and portends much greatness to come.
As for the here and now, J-Rod went 1 for 3 with a walk against the Royals on Saturday, and he’s now slashing .279/.341/.466 for the season. His M’s are now 73-56 and presently in first place in the AL West by a half-game over the Rangers and 1 1/2 games over the Astros.