Does this explain why Mariners’ Julio Rodríguez isn’t hitting for power?

May 20, 2024, 3:10 PM | Updated: 4:19 pm

Seattle Mariners Julio Rodríguez...

Julio Rodríguez of the Seattle Mariners at bat against Arizona on April 27, 2024. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Seattle Mariners star Julio Rodríguez has been picking things up at the plate recently, but one thing is still missing.

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Entering Monday’s series opener against the New York Yankees, the 23-year-old center fielder has a .274 batting average, boosted by a seven-game hitting streak that includes five multi-hit games. Before the start of that streak, Rodríguez was sitting at just a .247 average.

Rodríguez’s other numbers haven’t seen that kind of a jump, though. Power has surprisingly been missing this season, as he has just two home runs and five doubles in 47 games, with only one of his 12 hits on the current streak going for extra bases.

MLB Network analyst Mark DeRosa, who spent 16 years in the big leagues as a utility player and was manager of the United States team in last year’s World Baseball Classic, joined Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob on Monday and shared his view on why Rodríguez isn’t getting the ball in the air as much as in previous seasons. DeRosa wonders if something mechanical when Rodríguez loads his swing could be holding him back.

“When I see Julio from the side angle, I just see a guy who occasionally gets his top hand where the head of the bat is almost facing the pitcher, and that’s a long way to go to get (the bat) back (to the ball),” said DeRosa, who regularly breaks down swings in his role on MLB Central. “I’ve seen a lot of games where his decision making on pitches is right, but it takes him a little longer to get there. And I think if he lays down that top hand a little bit, I think he’s only going to get hotter.”

To see what DeRosa means, see in this video of a hit by Rodríguez on Sunday where his bat head tilts toward the pitcher as he lifts his leg to stride.

DeRosa pointed to another famous Julio who did something similar with their stance, but mentioned it may be harder to pull off against today’s pitching.

“I played with a lot of guys who present like that,” DeRosa continued. “I mean, Julio Franco – he’s not that drastic, J-Rod – but Julio Franco comes to mind as far as trying to understand what I’m talking about with that top hand and almost presenting that barrel a little bit too much to the pitcher. It’s a longer way to go. You see today’s game, guys with such velocity that you’re seeing a lot of simplification of swings as opposed to these grandiose, kind of lot-of-moving parts (stances) that you could get away with I felt like in my generation.”

The important thing for Rodríguez is to not feel like he needs to hurry to get his numbers back to where they should be, which is a lesson DeRosa said he had to learn himself at the same age.

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“The 23 year old version of me was trying to be a hero every night instead of kind of understanding how to add value on that given day,” DeRosa said. “J-Rod’s on such a different level, and some of these young guys have kind of hit the ground running so quick (this season) that you can’t help but (feel like), ‘Hey, I got to catch up,’ and that’s the worst thing you can do in this game. You can’t grab five homers in one at-bat. You’ve got to slowly (make strides). It’s a long season. You get hot for two months, you eliminate everything.

“… The superstars are expected to be consistent daily for 162 (games) and kind of carry you, and when they struggle, it kind of shows the flaws of the team and the offense as a whole. So I mean, yeah, the pressure is there, but he’s got the contract and he’s got the talent to do it.”

Getting the power swing on track may not take that much, either.

“I think if he relaxes a little bit and kind of rides this (hit streak) – he’s getting a few knocks to fall, a couple homers here and there – if he can kind of build off that, catch a heater here in Yankee Stadium and hit that short right field porch a couple times, I think it gets going,” DeRosa said.

Listen to the full Wyman and Bob conversation with MLB Network analyst Mark DeRosa in the podcast at this link or in the player near the top of this post.

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Does this explain why Mariners’ Julio Rodríguez isn’t hitting for power?