Why is Julio Rodriguez a defender to watch in 2023?

Rodriguez didn’t just win 2022 AL Rookie of the Year and help the Mariners to their first playoff appearance since 2001 through his hitting. Though he finished with only 3 Defensive Runs Saved, that was a huge upgrade from 2021, when Mariners center fielders ranked 28th with -16 Runs Saved.

Rodriguez wowed fans by extending his range with 20 combined sliding, diving, and jumping catches, the sixth-highest total for an outfielder.

Most Sliding, Diving, Jumping Catches – Outfielders in 2022

Player Catches
Ian Happ 34
Alex Verdugo 24
Victor Robles 23
David Peralta 22
Daulton Varsho 21
Julio Rodriguez 20

His best catch came on the national stage in the postseason against the Astros.

However, a former Mariners defensive great in center field pointed out that Rodriguez needs to be careful.

Cameron may be heartened to know that Rodriguez dove for a ball only 6 times in the 2022 regular season (catching 5). Fifteen center fielders had more diving attempts.

What To Watch: One thing we’ll be watching from Rodriguez is his arm. Baserunners advanced 46 of 80 times they had a chance to do so on a ball Rodriguez fielded or caught. The 57.5% advance rate ranked 5th-highest among the 35 center fielders who played the most innings in 2022. That cost him 2 Defensive Runs Saved.