Could Julio Rodriguez lead all of baseball in Stolen Bases?

We are only 19 games into the MLB season, but there is a certain young Mariners player that is a surprise at the top of the stolen base leaderboard. We all knew that Julio Rodriguez was getting faster during the offseason, speeding up enough to give the plus-plus speed prospects a run for their money (he reportedly beat Victor Labrada in a footrace), but it would be hard to have predicted the early success and elite speed he has shown.

Even though Julio hasn’t been on base a ton (13 hits and six walks) he always has eight stolen bases and has yet to be caught. That’s not a lot of opportunities, yet he leads all of baseball in steals!

Julio Rodriguez is fast. He’s really fast. He is so fast he makes fast people look not fast

Sorry, I just really enjoy that line from The Longest Yard.

It’s still true though. They had him at 30.1 f/s earlier this season, which would’ve been the 7th fastest mark for the entirety of the 2021 season. It may have been downgraded a bit to 29.9, as that is where he is at as of Friday on Baseball Savant’s sprint speed leaderboard. It’s still just 0.1 off the lead, and put’s him in a tie for 3rd place on the season.

It brings me to a question that I think I need to pose.

Can Julio Rodriguez actually lead all of baseball in stolen bases?

I’m gonna look at just a few different items here. The leaders from the last few years, Julio’s current steal rate extrapolated out throughout the year and trying to figure out how often he should get on base the rest of the year and the resulting attempts it could lead to.

Over the last ten years, here are the leaders in stolen bases for all of baseball.

YEARAMERICAN LEAGUENATIONAL LEAGUE
2012Mike Trout – 49Everth Cabrera – 44
2013Jacoby Ellsbury – 52Eric Young Jr – 46
2014Jose Altuve – 56Dee Strange-Gordon – 64
2015Jose Altuve – 38Dee Strange-Gordon – 58
2016Rajai Davis – 43Jonathan Villar – 62
2017Whit Merrifield – 34Dee Strange-Gordon – 60
2018Whit Merrifield – 45Trea Turner – 43
2019Mallex Smith – 46Ronald Acuna Jr – 37
2020Adalberto Mondesi – 24Trevor Story – 15
2021Whit Merrifield – 40Trea Turner – 32

 

There are a few high numbers on there, but nothing insane. Long gone are the days of stealing 80 bases in a season. Adalberto Mondesi actually moves up to 65 when you apply the 2.7 modifier, just seeking out Strange-Gordon for the lead.

If Julio were to steal 8 bases every 19 games, he would end up with 68 on the season. That’s ALOT! I don’t think he is going to steal that much though. However, he is going to get on base more often as the season goes along. Honestly… if he were to finish with around 50-55 steals, I don’t think it would surprise me anymore. He gets great jumps and has incredible reflexes. He gets in the pitcher’s head when he is on base, and it seems like he has the green light.

Steals are definitely down over the last ten years, and even more so over the last four. The league leader is normally in the mid-40 range.

So, what does that mean?

THAT JULIO RODRIGUEZ IS GOING TO LEAD ALL OF BASEBALL IN STOLEN BASES IN 2022! DARN THE UMPS AND MLB THE SHOW FOR NOT RECOGNIZING HIS SPEED AND ABILITY!

Yup, it was worth yelling about.

Anyway, Julio Rodriguez is really good, and Mariners fans should be incredibly happy. Good things are yet to come, and it’s going to be a lot of fun.