Passan: Mariners’ Rodríguez can take game to another level in 2024

Mar 27, 2024, 8:16 AM

Seattle Mariners Julio Rodriguez...

Julio Rodriguez of the Seattle Mariners celebrates after hitting a 3-run home run on Aug. 17, 2023. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

(Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

ESPN MLB insider Jeff Passan is “bullish” on the Seattle Mariners in 2024. Passan told Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk that he flirted with the idea of picking the M’s to make the World Series this season, and that he could see them winning it all given the talent that they have.

Why Jeff Passan ‘flirted’ with picking Seattle Mariners for World Series

Passan is a big fan of Seattle’s pitching staff and he views that as a huge strength of the team’s this year. But the Mariners also have one of the game’s best and brightest stars in center field every day in Julio Rodríguez, who at just 23 years old is entering his third MLB season and already has two All-Star nods, two Silver Slugger Awards and two top-10 American League MVP Award finishes to his credit.

Passan thinks Rodríguez can take his game to another level this year.

“I think that Julio Rodríguez has as good of a chance as anyone to win the MVP Award in the American League this year,” he told Brock and Salk.

Simply put, Rodríguez has plenty going for him.

“He just has everything put together so well for somebody who’s 23 years old. Like he just gets it,” Passan said. “And I think that there comes that point in every player’s career where their mental game matches up to their physical game and that’s when we see the absolute apex of what they can be. And I think this is the year that that happens for Julio Rodríguez, which is kind of frightening considering how good he’s been in his first two seasons already.”

Entering his third year, Rodríguez is firmly established not just with the Mariners, but all of MLB, Passan said.

“I think he’s finally beginning to understand who he is and where he fits into this not just place in Seattle as the anchor of the Mariners franchise, but in the entirety of Major League Baseball. He’s one of the guys now,” Passan said. “He’s one of the guys who everyone in the sport is going to look at and say, ‘I wish I were him.’ And I think instead of cowering from it or shying away, he embraces it and runs with it.”

So what could Rodriguez’s numbers look like in 2024? Passan was asked for his realistic and unrealistic expectations.

“Realistic expectations … I think that he’s going to hit somewhere in the .280 to .290 range, I think he’s going to get on base at least 35% of the time, and I think he’s going to slug .525 minimum. I think the power is going to really pick up this year,” Passan said.

For unrealistic, Passan still thinks there’s a shot this could happen.

“I could see him hitting 45 home runs this year, I could see see him stealing 45 bases this year,” he said. “That is at the edge. That is 95th percentile projection right there. But I do not discount anything with him.”

Listen to Brock and Salk’s full conversation with Jeff Passan at this link or in the player near the top of this story.

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