Over the years, Major League Baseball has had many players that more or less own the title “face of baseball.” It may not always be the best player in the sport, but the one that represents the game on a broader level across all four major professional men’s sports.
With the recent suspension of Fernando Tatís Jr., Mariners outfielder Julio Rodríguez is here to take hold of this title.
Although Mike Trout has been one of the best players we have ever seen, he has not embraced the player marketing side. Shohei Ohtani is arguably one of the greatest talents—if not the greatest—to ever grace the sport, but at times gets lost in the shuffle for being on a non-competitive Angels franchise.
Tatís burst onto the scene in 2019, but he truly took hold of baseball stardom a year later. As an MVP-caliber player with an electrifying personality, he is exactly the type of player the league would put as its leading man.
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Unfortunately, Tatís’ reputation has since diminished and his maturity has been publicly put into question by his own general manager. The 23-year old sensation had been working his way back from a wrist injury sustained in a motorcycling accident during the offseason, but any hopes of seeing the field in 2022 were dashed when MLB handed him an 80-game suspension on August 12.
According to the league, Tatís violated its policy on performance-enhancing drugs, staining his legacy and likely making him a non-starter for most when it comes to being the “face of baseball.”
Enter Rodríguez. Barring another injury, the 21-year-old superstar is headed for a Rookie of the Year season and sees his popularity grow each day. His performance in the Home Run Derby was somewhat of a coming out party, showcasing his vibrant personality and immense talent for baseball fans across the country.
Rodríguez is leading the charge for one of the most fun young teams in baseball. Seattle has become a club full of personalities, dancing on the field after wins and having fun doing it.
Its rookie center fielder is in the middle of it all, always with a smile on his face. Rodríguez is only getting better, with no real ceiling on what he can achieve.
His joy for the game is something you can feel through your television; it is infectious. He has taken Seattle by storm this year, but it isn’t going to stop there. He is growing into the face of baseball right before our eyes, and it might happen sooner rather than later.