The Evolution of a Yankee Killer: How the Rays’ Randy Arozarena went from no one to anyone

In January, the Tampa Bay Rays traded prospects and picks for the Saint Louis Cardinals’ defensively restricted, however constant offensive contributor, José Martinez, and the group’s tenth ranked prospect, Randy Arozarena. After each of the Rays’ new toys arrived at camp late attributable to constructive COVID-19 checks, the 2 acquisitions’ performances inverted expectations: Martinez struggled on the plate and was ultimately dealt away, whereas Arozarena has now established himself as probably the most electrifying younger gamers within the recreation.

By making use of his rigorous work ethic to his coronavirus quarantine, doing three-hundred pushups a day and refining his weight-reduction plan to a clear rooster and rice combo, in addition to remodeling his swing mechanics, he made the many of the alleged fifteen kilos of muscle gained.

For the Cardinals, Arozarena acquired simply 23 journeys to the plate in 2019, homering as soon as with a .300 batting common, however with out establishing himself as greater than an organizational depth piece. As quoted in Marc Topkin’s Tampa Bay Occasions piece from September 8, Nationals supervisor Davey Martinez raved about Arozarena’s bat-to-ball expertise, “He’s obtained an unbelievably fast bat. We talked about it, stated, ‘Hey, don’t attempt to sneak a fastball by him, as a result of his bat is fast.’”

Arozarena’s bat in Saint Louis was certainly fast.

Right here, Randy manhandles Merrill Kelly’s elevated fastball, sending a 103-mph laser into the left subject stands for that lone Redbird dinger.

Nonetheless, the anatomy of Arozarena’s smattering of hits with St. Louis wasn’t essentially predictive of his 2020 breakout. He recorded a few infield singles on the left facet, two ropes down the left-field line, and a flare into proper.

Regardless of possessing arms fast sufficient to attract the eye of the opposition, Arozarena’s relative lower-body immobility restricted his potential on the plate.

This time, Arozarena will get one other fastball down the center, albeit a sharper one, however is unable to get full clearance along with his hips earlier than the barrel enters the hitting zone as he drops his barrel under the extent of the ball, and his arms slide throughout the zone fairly than accelerating by means of it. The swing labored sufficient for Arozarena to make the bigs, and even have some success on the major-league degree, nevertheless it wasn’t but optimized to drive the ball with power to all components of the sphere.

Since becoming a member of the Rays, Arozarena has integrated a extra decisive leg kick into his load.

By getting deeper counter-rotation of his hips on his load, and squatting decrease into his legs on his plant, Arozarena has maximized his immense athletic “stretch,” producing huge energy by means of the zone.

Additional, Arozarena now generates energy straight again by means of the field as an alternative of spinning over his base like a high. That’s why he’s in a position to get a full flip and keep proper on high of Deivi García’s up and away fastball, driving it over the pinnacle of Aaron Judge and into the bleachers with ease.

Within the 2020 common season and playoffs, Arozarena’s batted-ball distribution has develop into way more democratic than his earlier yr’s.

Throughout the shortened season and prolonged playoffs, Arozarena’s batted .328 and slugged .730. Although some regression past his anticipated stats of .302/.628 appears possible, he’s additionally seemingly gotten extra comfy with time, even enhancing upon his stats in every successive spherical of the playoffs regardless of the more and more stiff competitors. After changing into the primary rookie to ever win the ALCS MVP, he’d have been a possible candidate to win the World Series MVP if the Rays had taken 4 of seven from the Dodgers. There’s no motive to imagine he received’t have the ability to replicate a minimum of a few of his dominance on the plate subsequent season.

His protection, too, deserves greater than an afterthought, as he possesses 94th percentile pace and 72nd percentile rated jumps. He has the instruments to be a stable outfielder on the very worst.

Sadly for the Yankees, Randy Arozarena’s manufacturing exhibits no indicators of slowing up, and he’s more likely to be a Ray for a very long time to return. He’s 25 years outdated, and he received’t be eligible for arbitration till 2023, with free company all the best way in 2026. As a cost-controlled participant who contributes to profitable on either side of the ball, he’s precisely the sort of participant the Rays might hope to construct future squads round. They nonetheless have the top-ranked farm system within the Majors, and loads of younger abilities on their roster to stay aggressive within the coming seasons. With Arozarena’s emergence as a franchise cornerstone, the Rays have pole place within the AL East with room to develop.

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