The Rays were thwarted again by the Dodgers in Friday night’s World Series Game 3, but even Walker Buehler’s heroics (6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 10 Ks) couldn’t deter breakout star Randy Arozarena from making postseason history. The 25-year-old belted his eighth home run of the playoffs in the losing cause, circling the bases on a ninth-inning solo blast off closer Kenley Jansen.
Though Arozarena’s 397-foot rocket to left field would ultimately prove too little too late for the Rays, who trail their best-of-seven series with the NL Champion Dodgers two games to one, it pushed the outfielder’s postseason hit total to 23, passing Derek Jeter’s previous high-water mark for rookies set during the Yankees’ title run in 1996. Houston’s Yuli Gurriel, who contributed 21 hits in his playoff debut three years ago, ranks third on that prestigious list.
While Arozarena still has some climbing to do if he hopes to unseat Pablo Sandoval (who we recently learned is an Atlanta Brave) for the most hits in a single postseason (26 in 2014), the ex-Cardinals farmhand stands alone in one particular category. As noted by ESPN's Jesse Rogers, Friday’s four-bagger upped the rookie’s total base count to 52 this postseason, bettering the record established by former Cardinals third baseman David Freese in 2011. He put 50 bases on his postseason odometer that year.
Arozarena had the benefit of an extra playoff round to compile his stats—this year’s October slate featured a first-of-its-kind, best-of-three Wild Card series. But it’s still mighty impressive what the Cuban defector has accomplished in his inaugural postseason. At present, Arozarena finds himself locked in a four-way tie with Carlos Beltran (2004), Barry Bonds (2002) and Nelson Cruz (2011) for the most home runs in a single postseason.
It’s laughable to think Arozarena, who Tampa Bay acquired in a trade that sent Matthew Liberatore, Edgardo Rodriguez and a Competitive Balance Round B pick to St. Louis last offseason, entered the year as the Rays’ 19th-ranked prospect, according to MLB.com. Chalk it up as another heist for one of the shrewdest organizations in MLB, which begs the question, why exactly do teams keep trading with the Rays?