Who’s Randy Arozarena? Rays' discount hitter is an unlikely World Collection hero after buying and selling with Cardinals


Randy Arozarena started the 2020 World Series quietly. But just like the Tampa Bay Rays woke up to level it with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Arozarena also woke up to keep setting post-season records.

Arozarena gained national attention during the playoffs and only gets better known when he and the Rays battle the Dodgers for the world title. The Cuban outfielder defected five years ago in hopes of supporting his family and has turned into one of the stories from October. Arozarena has earned ALCS MVP and has now set an MLB playoff record with nine home runs. All that remains are a few more wins for an unlikely championship led by an unlikely player in an unprecedented year.

Here's what you need to know about Arozarena, October's surprise story.

MORE WORLD SERIES: How Brett Phillips Became the Most Unlikely Hero

1. Randy Arozarena defected from Cuba to Mexico

Arozarena was born in northwest Cuba, about a 4 1/2 hour drive from Havana. He lived in Cuba for the first 20 years of his life. But like many Cuban athletes, he chose a defect. At 20, Arozarena took a small boat from Cuba to Mexico. According to the New York Times, it was an eight-hour boat ride with big waves. Arozarena knew "nobody" when he arrived in Mexico.

He eventually linked up with an agent who took him to the Toros Ball Club near Tijuana. In the Mexican minor league, Arozarena played for the Toritos and won both the stroke title and the stolen base crown. This prompted the St. Louis Cardinals to sign a $ 1.25 million contract with Arozarena.

2. The Cardinals traded Randy Arozarena for the Rays

Arozarena made its big-league debut for the Cardinals in 2019, scoring at Bats .300 in 20. Arozarena also appeared in five playoff games for the Cardinals. The Rays wanted to acquire it before the 2020 season, and not just for this small sample size. Arozarena hit everywhere he went including .358 with 12 home runs in Triple-A in 2019 and .396 in 91 Double-A in bats the year before.

Tampa Bay took a giant leap to acquire Arozarena and Jose Martinez, ditching their top pitching prospect Matthew Liberatore along with minor league catcher Edgardo Rodriguez and a draft pick. At the time, the chatter was more focused on Martinez being a good acquisition as the poor outfield DH could be in the American League. Arozarena was the afterthought.

3. Randy Arozarena tested positive for COVID-19

On July 23, Arozarena was placed on the minor league's COVID-19 list. It was not obvious whether or not Arozarena should break the "summer camp" with the rays, but that prevented such an opportunity.

Instead, Arozarena didn't make its season debut until Aug. 30 after recovering and updating at the alternative training location in Tampa Bay. During the quarantine, Arozarena taught herself to cook and did 300 pushups a day, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

4. Randy Arozarena's power outbreak is new

Arozarena doesn't look like a power hitter. He is 5-11 and 185 pounds. But he first began to show power during the 2018 Mexican Winter League when he completed 14 home races out of 260 at Bats. Then he beat 15 in 343 minor leagues in bats in 2019.

But none of this prepared MLB for what Arozarena does in the postseason. He has seven home runs out of 47 with bats competing in the World Series, one of which after hitting the overall record of eight post-season HRs from Barry Bonds, Carlos Beltran and Nelson Cruz. Several Arozarena home runs have been contrasting explosions in the right center, which is an amazing force for a player his size.

5. Randy Arozarena is the newest Rays bargain

When participating in the World Series, the Rays Arozarena paid $ 90,335 in 2020. This is partly due to the shortened season and partly due to his late arrival with the majors this year. Still, it's a remarkably small number compared to the $ 10 million the Dodgers paid to Mookie Betts in the short season, for example. That is more than 100 times what the Rays paid for Arozarena. It was also $ 12,905 per American League playoff home game operated by Arozarena, which seems like a pretty team-friendly rate.

6. Randy Arozarena sets postseason records

Arozarena's seven home races in the World Series set the rookie record, breaking Evan Longoria's 2008 six-point mark on the way to Tampa Bay's other World Series appearance. With two home runs in the World Series, Arozarena overtook Barry Bonds, Nelson Cruz and Carlos Beltran to stand alone as the greatest postseason slugger of all time (albeit in a longer postseason than usual).

In Game 5, Arozarena also broke Derek Jeter's playoff rookie hits record, tied Pablo Sandoval's overall playoff hits record, and broke David Freese's overall playoff base record.


Steven Gregory