SAN DIEGO — Mariners prodigy Julio Rodríguez certainly plays like an All-Star, both in terms of statistical performance and style points.
But will he be an All-Star?
Rodríguez, 21, was not among the American League outfield finalists for Phase 2 All-Star voting, which opened Tuesday. First baseman Ty France is Seattle’s only finalist. But with his ever-growing star power, Rodríguez is generating a lot of buzz about his addition to the AL squad when replacements are named.
“Who wouldn’t love to play the All-Star Game?” Rodríguez asked. “You tell me. Who wouldn’t like to play the All-Star Game?”
You don’t have to dig deep to find an argument for Rodríguez earning an All-Star spot as a rookie. In traditional stats, he entered the AL outfield leaders Tuesday in batting average (.275, sixth), hits (84, second), doubles (16, tied for seventh), homers (15 , tied for fifth), RBI (43, tied for sixth), stolen bases (20, first), slugging (.489, fourth), OPS (.824, fourth), and runs scored (47, tied for third).
For those who prefer Statcast metrics, J-Rod ranks highly in Average Out Speed (top nine percent in MLB), Hit Percentage (top eight percent), Barrel Percentage (top nine percent), sprint speed (top three percent) and above-average strikeouts on defense (top seven percent).
“[He] was maybe on the fence a few weeks ago, but he’s been so good,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “He’s one of the best players in the game right now, from the way he’s been playing lately. His numbers look pretty good. I think he’s an All-Star.
Rodríguez finished 12th among AL outfielders at the start of the polls, which is understandable since he had just made a name for himself in the major leagues. But if the All-Star Game is a showcase, he certainly has the kind of talent worth displaying.
His home run into the third deck of the Western Metal Supply Co. building in Petco Park on Monday was an example of his prodigious skill, as he was able to drive an inside change that would immobilize most hitters.
If Rodríguez doesn’t get an All-Star nod, the Home Run Derby is another option. But he does not share the same enthusiasm for this possibility.
“I don’t know about [the] Home Run Derby, honestly. I don’t know,” Rodríguez said. “I haven’t had that experience. We’ll see.”
The very topic of the Derby may have exposed a so-called weakness in the rookie’s game.
“He cannot make circuits at BP. He can’t do it,” said Servais, who regularly throws batting practices at him. “He’s not good at it. He shouldn’t.