After becoming the first player to ever reach the 25 home run and 25 stolen base mark in his first two seasons, Julio Rodriguez reached another important milestone, hitting his 30th home run against the Angels to tie the game in the tenth inning. According to MLB.com, he joins the likes of Ronald Acuña Jr., Mike Trout, and Alex Rodriguez as the only players to have such a season at age 22 or younger.
After a relatively lukewarm first half that saw him slash .249/.310/.411 over 397 plate appearances, some were already starting to discuss Rodriguez's sophomore slump. As if powered by such doubt, his performance in the second half has been nothing short of spectacular. His OPS went from .721 before the All-Star break to 1.025 after the All-Star break, powering the Mariners to a scorching 21-win August and the team's first AL West lead since 2003. In the past 15 games alone, his slash line of .364/.382/.848 totals an incredible 1.230 OPS.
This hot streak could not come at a more opportune time. With the Mariners now 2.5 games behind the Houston Astros for the division lead following last night's loss to the Angels, FanGraphs now gives the Mariners just a 13.6% chance to win the AL West and a 61.9% chance to make the postseason.
While Julio has been performing well, the same cannot be said for the rest of the team. After a brutal road trip that saw the team go 3-7 against the Mets, Reds, and Rays, Seattle is now on a four-game losing streak. With a remaining schedule that includes three games against the Los Angeles Dodgers, three games against the Houston Astros, and seven games against the Texas Rangers, the playoff dreams of the Pacific Northwest will be decided within the next few weeks. Even the game that saw him reach this crucial milestone ended in tragedy as the Angels took a three-run lead in the 11th inning and never looked back.
At the very least, fans can relish in the fact that Julio Rodriguez is the real deal and is signed through 2029. If his first two years are indicative of what to expect in his future, fans will be treated to six more years of historic moments just like this one.