Key figure for first-place Mariners has been 3B Josh Rojas

Apr 24, 2024, 11:33 AM

Seattle Mariners Josh Rojas...

Josh Rojas of the Seattle Mariners bats against Colorado on April 21, 2024. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

(Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Pop quiz: With the Seattle Mariners 23 games into the 2024 MLB season entering Wednesday, who leads the team in batting average and on-base percentage?

It’s not Julio Rodríguez. Nor is it J.P. Crawford. Not Ty France or Mitch Haniger, either.

Watch: Seattle Mariners’ Julio Rodríguez blasts first HR of season

Give up?

The answer, believe it or not, is third baseman Josh Rojas.

In 17 games and 55 plate appearances, the 29-year-old Rojas is hitting .306 with a .382 on-base percentage and .429 slugging percentage for an .811 OPS. He also has three doubles, a home run and six walks to just 10 strikeouts.

He’s not just getting things done at the plate, either. Third base was very much a question mark going into this season, but Rojas has played strong defense at the position when he’s had his opportunities, including on this diving stop and throw to get Rangers star Adolis García out during Tuesday’s 4-0 win over the Rangers, which moved the 12-11 M’s ahead of Texas (12-12) for first place in the American League West.

Pretty nice play all around, isn’t it?

The early-season performance of Rojas is a bit of a pleasant surprise for Mariners fans. He came to the team in a trade with Arizona last July, and he had struggled with the Diamondbacks in 59 games in 2023 prior to the move. Rojas played well for Seattle (mostly at second base) last August and September, and he seems to be taking it to another level this year.

Mariners manager Scott Servais praised Rojas following Tuesday’s victory in Texas.

“Josh played great. Really good defense to start with, but the offense – he just puts bat on the ball,” Servais said in his postgame media session. “Doesn’t try to do too much, uses the whole field, you know, big double down the line tonight. It’s always a competitive at-bat with ‘Ro.'”

Servais pointed to one key for Rojas at the plate.

“It may not start out competitive the first couple of pitches, he may be out of whack, but he makes really good adjustments within an at-bat, and you’re seeing it play out here on a nightly basis,” Servais said.

The Mariners continue their series with the defending World Series champion Rangers at 5:05 p.m. Wednesday. As with all of their games, catch Mariners Radio Network coverage on Seattle Sports 710 AM, the Seattle Sports app and beginning with the pregame show at least an hour before first pitch (4 p.m. in Wednesday’s case). For details on how to stream Mariners radio broadcasts from Seattle Sports, click here.

More on the Seattle Mariners

Seattle Mariners catcher one of MLB’s ‘most underrated players’
Defense of Mariners’ Julio Rodríguez in CF is ‘off the charts’
ESPN’s Passan: Why Mariners didn’t trade their young pitchers
Drayer: Mariners break down keys to their turnaround on offense
MLB insider thinks Seattle Mariners will pass loathed division rival

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Key figure for first-place Mariners has been 3B Josh Rojas