A Sneaky Rookie of the Year Candidate

Miami Marlins v Seattle Mariners
Miami Marlins v Seattle Mariners / Steph Chambers/GettyImages
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Caballero primed for 2023 ROY run

Jose Caballero was always known for his 'dominate the zone' tendencies running high walk rates (14.7%) and low strikeout rates (18.7%) in six minor league seasons. He's taken those skills to the big leagues and hasn't missed a beat.

The Mariners' lineup is full of power threats but only a few contact hitters who can work a count and get on ahead of those big bats. MLB Insider Jeff Passan joined Brock and Salk (Seattle Sports 710) and echoed those sentiments, explaining that the only players who take walks are J.P. Crawford, Jarred Kelenic, and Caballero.

That is why Kolten Wong's days with the team are numbered, especially when Servais has gone on record about the team's lack of focus in their approach. When known MLB media group a rookie with 100 at-bats in the bucket of players doing it right, that means something. Additionally, even with Moore back Caballero continues to get the major of the run at the pivot. That development points to more playing time for the Venezuelan sparkplug.

It's not just his strict adherence to the team's philosophy that stands out; the results are also there. You can see his standing among AL second basemen in various critical categories. While we make a lot about the offensive profile, the defense is just as good. Caballero is third among his peers in Outs Above Average (3) and Defensive fWAR (3.1).

The AL rookie class is solid, including Baltimore infielder Gunnar Henderson, Texas third baseman Josh Jung, and Boston outfielder Yoshida Masataka headlining. However, Caballero could make his way into the conversation if the Mariners pick up steam, as they did this time last year. Imagine the Mariners having back-to-back AL Rookie of the Year winners. If Caballero's rise from little-known prospect to bench player to possible starter indicates things to come, the sky is the limit.