For many baseball observers, Randy Arozarena was not a household name prior to the 2020 MLB Playoffs. The then 25-year-old slugger burst onto the scene with 10 home runs in only 20 games, posting an obscene 1.273 OPS and helping the Rays come within a whisker of winning the World Series. Arozarena followed that up with a very strong 2021 season, hitting 20 home runs with an .815 OPS, and he once again made his presence known in Tampa Bay’s first postseason game on Thursday.
Arozarena grabbed the spotlight in myriad ways, but he stole home in picture-perfect fashion in the seventh inning, and that was the centerpiece of a splendid evening.
As you can see, Arozarena played this perfectly and clearly had a read on Red Sox hurler Josh Taylor. Still, he had to have the explosion and speed to actually pull it off, and this was the first steal of home in the playoffs since 2016.
That was the first playoff steal of home since 2016 (Javy Báez in Game 1 of the NLCS that year)
— Emma Baccellieri (@emmabaccellieri) October 8, 2021
Earlier in the game, Arozarena blasted his 11th home run in the last two postseasons, and he was a big part of creating Tampa Bay’s lead that only grew with the steal.
Randy Arozarena was made for October. pic.twitter.com/azzyoNatkf
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 8, 2021
With those two plays, Arozarena is the first player in MLB history to hit a home run and steal home in the same postseason game, which is an incredible feat for a variety of reasons.
The Rays aren’t exactly known for individual personalities or star power, largely putting together organizational success by working on the margins and with impressive depth. Arozarena may be an exception, though, and his transformation into an October superstar in 2020 may just be carrying over again in 2021.