The New Kid: Julio Rodriguez named 2022 Rookie of the Year by Baseball America

SEATTLE — Mariners centerfielder Julio Rodriguez will be named the 2022 Rookie of the Year in Baseball America’s October issue.

The new issue, which is available to preorder, has a feature on Rodriguez’ rookie season that details his role in bringing Seattle to the brink of making the playoffs for the first time since 2001 and explains how his star power and charisma rival Mariners legend Ken Griffey Jr.

The 21-year-old phenom has totaled 27 home runs, 73 runs batted in, 81 runs and 25 stolen bases along with a .280 batting average in his standout rookie season. He’s produced 5.7 wins above replacement for the Mariners, the seventh highest mark in the American League, according to Baseball Reference.

Last month Seattle finalized a landmark contract extension with Rodriguez, leveraging its future around the star centerfielder.

Rodriguez’ unique extension could be for eight, 13, 16 or 18 years and could be the largest Major League Baseball (MLB) contract ever at $470 million if he maxed out all of his contract incentives, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. The base of Rodriguez’ contract is eight years and $120 million, putting him with the Mariners until at least 2029, Passan said.

The length of Rodriguez’ contract put him in rarefied history in MLB. The last time a player signed a contract of 14 years or more was Fernando Tatis in February 2021.

For his efforts halfway through the season, Rodriguez became one of just 14 position players under the age of 22 named to the All-Star team in their rookie season. That list is littered with current and future Hall of Famers like Albert Pujols, Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Tim Raines, Johnny Bench and Rod Carew.

In his first home run derby, Rodriguez battled with Juan Soto, arguably the best hitter in MLB. He finished as the first-ever player to hit multiple 30-HR rounds in a single derby. Rodriguez already surpassed Ken Griffey Jr.’s (59) all-time mark in the Home Run Derby before the final even kicked off.

Rodríguez finished his first derby with 81 home runs. Soto, the eventual winner, had 53 home runs.

It was then that Rodriguez’ star was born.