BROCK AND SALK

‘Mr. Mariner’ shares his advice for struggling Julio Rodríguez

Jun 26, 2024, 1:27 PM

Seattle Mariners Julio Rodriguez A's 2024...

Julio Rodríguez of the Seattle Mariners before a game against the A's on June 5. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

(Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Seattle Mariners star outfielder Julio Rodríguez continues to have a perplexing season at the plate.

Where’s Julio’s power? Insiders weigh in on Mariners star’s ‘mystifying’ first half

Just past the midway mark of the season, the 23-year-old slugger is batting .252/.303/.335 with only seven home runs, six doubles and a .638 OPS. He went just 3 for 31 on the Mariners’ recent nine-game road trip, capped by an 0-for-15 slump over the past four games. It’s a stark contrast from his dazzling first two seasons in the majors, when he combined to hit .279/.338/.495 with 60 homers and a .834 OPS in 2022 and 2023.

Rodríguez’s batting average is still 10 points above the MLB average this season, but his OPS ranks No. 62 of 71 qualified hitters in the AL – a stunningly low spot for one of the game’s most dangerous power hitters.

On Monday, Mariners Hall of Fame first baseman Alvin Davis, aka “Mr. Mariner,” joined Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk for a wide-ranging conversion on the M’s organization. Davis, who currently serves as a roving instructor in Seattle’s minor league system, won the AL Rookie of the Year award in 1984 – the same award Rodríguez won after his spectacular 2022 rookie campaign.

At the end of their conversation, Davis was asked for one piece of advice he would give Rodríguez right now.

“It’s tough, but just continue to swing at good pitches,” Davis said. “It’s pretty obvious how the league is trying to attack Julio. It’s the two-seamers from right-handers running on his hands – cutters (from left-handers) in on his hands – because when Julio gets his arms extended and that barrel is on time to the baseball, magical things happen. It’s elite-plus.

“But it’s hard, right? It’s really, really hard when you know you’re the guy and you want to be the guy, and you’re just not getting the pitches to hit or you’re getting crowded inside and they’re not letting you get your arms extended.”

As Davis said, Rodríguez has struggled mightily against cutters this season. According to Baseball Savant, he is batting just .143 with a .286 slugging percentage against the pitch this year. Last season, he batted .302 with a .488 slugging percentage against cutters. In 2022, he hit .286 with a .543 slugging percentage against the pitch.

As a result, Rodríguez has seen his barrel rate has declined from 13.1% and 11.9% in his first two seasons to just 8.9% this season.

“I would just encourage him to just continue to be disciplined,” Davis said. “That’s still an important concept and it’s an important word when it comes to hitting – plate discipline and staying in the strike zone and not taking the bait and swinging out of the zone or trying to do too much. Some of that comes to trusting your teammates that are coming up behind you as well.

“So it would just be simply that: Just stay in the damage zone and … have that plate discipline, because if they throw Julio four balls and he goes to first base, a lot of times that turns into a double.”

Listen to the full conversation with Alvin Davis at this link or in the audio player near the middle of this story. Tune in to Brock and Salk weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m. or find the podcast on the Seattle Sports app.

More on the Seattle Mariners

• How much did bumpy road trip hurt first-place Mariners?
• A team that could help the M’s at the trade deadline in multiple ways
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• Latest promotion brings a top Seattle Mariners prospect to Everett

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