Heading into 2022, most Mariners fans had the same hope. That we would see young Mariners prospect Julio Rodriguez put together a good season. One that would help him get started on a path to relevance and a great career with the Mariners. A slow start that would turn into a decent year. Something along those lines would be more than okay, as players his age usually don't put together all-time seasons.
Yeah, all-time seasons. That's what Julio Rodriguez ended up doing in 2022. the slow start was there, but it lasted just eight games. Then, all of a sudden Julio turned it on... and there was no off switch.
A .107 BA through eight games became a .200 Ba through 16 games. That became a .254 BA through 31 games. He never got to .300, but he steadily and consistently kept improving as the season went on. In his first year, his rookie year, we saw numbers that few men have put up in the history of baseball.
We've talked about that multiple times, and it's easy to fall into the cycle of praising Julio for 2022. Shoot, I just spent nearly 200 words doing that. We need to look forward to 2023 though. What can we expect from him? What's a realistic and reasonable projection?
Well, that's the unobjective way to look at it. I want to throw out two sets of numbers. Likely, neither one will be right. The first is going to be a "sophomore slump" type set of numbers. We see Julio fall back to earth a bit, struggling as pitchers have had a full season and offseason to study him. He still plays well, but not at the level he did in 2022.
The second... well, let's call that the "early A-Rod" comp. Things just work, and everything falls into place. It comes out that Julio spent the offseason grinding, studying, working out, and pouring is heart and soul into becoming the best baseball player the Mariners have ever had don their jersey.
Sure, this could be similar to the 20/80 that we see over with Dan S. and ZiPS, but I'm pushing it a bit more extreme than that. I think with someone like Julio, who can go out and perform at a level that very few baseball players are able to achieve, that it's worth going a bit over the top and throwing out numbers that could represent his ceiling.
Here's the thing. Could you see him putting up a season like Matt Kemp, Christian Yelich, or Ronald Acuna did? Yeah, those numbers seem pretty crazy, but they aren't astronomical and unobtainable. If the Mariners come out strong, the lineup looks good, and players stay relatively healthy... I could see it. Sure, it might be a 90-95% scenario thing, where it only happens in 1 of 10 or 1 of 20 simulations, but it's realistic enough that we have to talk about it.
Crap. Now I'm talking myself into believing that something like that is going to happen next season. Well, if it does, you can say you heard it here first. If not, you can yell at me online. It's fine, I get it enough as it is. For now though, I'm going to keep daydreaming about just how good Julio Rodriguez could... no, how good he WILL be for the Mariners in 2023.