Steamer Projections: Julio Rodriguez to enter rarified air in 2023
Every year, Fangraphs and Steamer come out with their “Steamer Projections” to predict how players will do for the 2023 season. According to MLB.com, it’s regarded as one of the most accurate predictive models in the industry. I think it would be fun to check their predictions for the Mariners for the upcoming season, and we might as well start with the Mariners best player, Julio Rodriguez.
It’s not just that Steamer has Julio Rodriguez doing well for the Mariners. They have him as the third-best player in all of baseball this year, behind only Juan Soto (7.0) and Aaron Judge (6.9).
Julio Rodriguez is turning into an incredibly special player
They’ve got Julio a bit behind those two, predicted for 6.0. Before we get to their predictive numbers, I want to try and put in perspective how good of a season this would be. The list of Mariners to have a 6+ WAR in a season, much less back-to-back, is a very small list. In fact, here are the M’s that have done it in the 45 years the team has been around.
|Ken Griffey Jr.||1993-8.8||1994-6.9||1996-9.7||1997-9.1||1998-6.6|
That’s it. That’s the list. I cheated to get the Big Unit in, as the 1994 season was cut short due to the strike. I treat that year the same as 2020 though and extrapolate it out to a full season for comparison’s sake. Neither Seager nor Cano ever did it (2014 and 2016 for both), Ichiro didn’t (2001 and 2004), Felix didn’t (2010 and 2014), and neither did A-Rod (1996, 1998, and 2000).
Just the fact that Julio Rodriguez is projected to become the 9th player in team history to have two 6+ WAR seasons is incredible. Yes, I know that I’m combining things a bit since Fangraphs had him at 5.3 and Baseball-Reference had him at 6.2. If that follows with the Steamer projection of 6.0, Baseball Reference would easily have him above 6. Guess what? My article, my rules. Chances are, it’s not even in the top 10 reasons people would argue with what I wrote this year.
As for the actual predictions, I’ll list out both what he did last year, what he did after that rough stretch to open the season, and his Steamer predictions.
|After Rough Start||124||24||82||75||28||23||.294||.354||.530||150|
Now, if you want to get a bit crazy and take Julio’s pace over that 124-game stretch and extrapolate it out over… let’s say, 154 games, here is what it would look like. (I’m going with that number to give him a week for an injury and a couple of rest days.)
Could you imagine if he put up something like that? Steamer isn’t that far off, but the increase in the HR+SB+slash line would be huge. It would be one of the best seasons ever by someone on the Mariners, and likely put him into a top 7-8 season all-time on the team.
The big takeaway from this is that Julio is going to flirt with a .300/30/30 season at some point in the next few years, as long as he keeps stealing bases. Don’t forget that he swiped 19 bases in a 73-game stretch. With the increased base size, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him go for 40 sometime soon.
I think Steamer is incredibly accurate in their Julio projection this year. A .345 BABIP is hard to keep up, but when you are hitting it 3 mph harder than the average player with a hard hit rate of 51.2% (hard hit rate is balls that leave the bat at 95+), a lot more of your hits are going to fall. I can’t see a single reasonable Mariners fan being disappointed with the Steamer projection numbers for Julio Rodriguez if they prove true for 2023.