From wearing cowboy boots during batting practice to making incredible defensive catches, Randy Arozarena practically did it all. He’s given fans highlight reel moments and more during his World Baseball Classic experience. In 2020, Arozarena made headlines during the Tampa Bay Rays World Series run. After that, people knew that he could be someone who would be unique for this team and organization. Not only that, but it also was the first true glimpse of the star that Arozarena would become for this organization.
Randy Arozarena’s Breakout Party
Arozarena has had many memorable Rays moments throughout the early stages of his career. But, as said before, the Cuban-Mexican got the opportunity to play on the international stage. His big moment came in the game against Puerto Rico, where his game-saving catch throttled Mexico to the semifinal.
Beyond the numbers, in which he hit.450 in 20 at-bats and had a homer to his credit, Arozarena could show off who he is. His personality changed exponentially during the WBC, which is something that most Rays have been able to learn and love about him. Still, now that the world could experience that aspect of himself and his energy on the field, the 28-year-old may have benefited most from any player in this year’s tournament.
Momentum Is on Randy’s Side
The question is, how does he use that momentum heading into the 2023 season?
Arozarena should have a breakout year, even after a 2022 season where he was a Silver Slugger finalist. He will bring an infectious energy to the clubhouse this season. As well as a critical bat that the Rays need regarding an increase in offensive production.
Last season, Arozarena hit .263 with 20 home runs, a season removed from winning the AL Rookie of the Year Award. With his strong momentum coming into the season and the need for his bat, don’t be surprised if that average goes up in numbers. Also, with the departure of Kevin Kiermaier, having him in the outfield defensively will be a significant gain.
Arozarena the Leader
Regarding leadership, Arozarena may also be someone who can replace Kiermaier in that role. It’s something on paper that isn’t so prevalent in that most of this Rays roster doesn’t feature much veteran experience.
With someone like Arozarena and even Brandon Lowe being the leaders in the field, the team as a whole should see improvement on all fronts heading into the season. While only time will tell if that may happen, one thing is certain: more eyes will watch the legend of Randy Arozarena throughout 2023.
Arozarena made himself known to people who may not know much about him. It’s something like the WBC that can do so much for players representing small market teams like Tampa Bay in the event. It’s also an excellent thing for the Rays that they may grab a new group of fans who may have only been supporting team Mexico in the WBC and will be looking for a team to root for.
Arozarena is a game-changer for this team, and not only is he bringing in the momentum and the fans that will be rooting for him this season.
Photo Credit: © Joe Rondone/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK