Throughout this entire process, there really shouldn't have been any doubt in anyone's mind that Julio Rodriguez was going to come in as the top player on our list of Mariners heading into 2023. It's funny how much things can change in just one season, but there should be no qualms or complaints about Julio taking the top spot.
I think the biggest question/concern that is surrounding Julio has to be the "sophomore slump" that has so long been rumored to haunt young stars. Some of it makes sense. Opponents have had an entire offseason to scout and learn about a player. They have had the opportunity to look for weak spots and develop a better thought-out plan to attack a hitter.
Julio Rodriguez is the best player on the Mariners heading into the 2023 season
I don't know that we are going to have to worry about that with Julio. From the instant he got called up last season, we saw darn good plate discipline for someone who was only 21 years old. In case anyone forgot, Julio had the early lead, far and away, for most called strike 3's outside of the strike zone. It was so bad, that Scott Servais got tossed in Tampa after a ridiculous showing by the home plate umpire.
The most impressive part was that Julio kept his cool through all of it. In fact, it lit a proverbial fire under him. After the debacle in Tampa, J-Rod would hit .297/.356/.547 over the rest of the season with 28 HR and 17 SB in that same period.
Not bad for a rookie.
The comparisons and possibilites for what Julio can do are up there with the greatest things accomplished in baseball, and it's only a little crazy to think about. With a full year of MLB training and study under his belt, could Julio put up a 300/40/40 season? Yeah, it sounds wild to propose, but with SBs going up this season, the factor holding him back could be the power. Seattle isn't the easiest place to hit bombs, but it's still within the realm of possibility that it needs to be mentioned.
His defense is getting better, he has a great arm, and he's got incredible speed. With a 0.7 dWAR, 5th in CF arm strength and 13th overall, and 15th in sprint speed and 4th in bolts (and run above 30 ft/s).
Usually, as a fan we overreact, putting too much expectation and praise on young players. Imagining scenarios that just aren't realistically plausible. But with Julio...
Well, it seems the possibilities are endless. 2023 is shaping up to be a great year for Mariners fans, and Seattle just so happens to have the possible future face of the game leading the way.