Black and white footage plays as the crowd at Yankee Stadium watches on. There’s not a dry eye in the place. Some newsies hang off the foul pole; elsewhere, grown men, dressed in military fatigues, weep. Babe Ruth adjusts the microphone for Randy Arozarena and motions for him to approach. Randy leans into the microphone, and quivering, “Today, I consider myself the Randiest man alive.” Sorry! I didn’t hear you come in. I was just directing this editing crew to recut the Lou Gehrig retirement speech. Don’t worry, it’s being done in a very respectful way. As you can imagine, it’s going to be hard for Randy Arozarena to play in 2021 after being inducted into the Hall of Fame after this postseason. Has that ever happened before? The prior-to-retirement induction? Did you just say “your stove?” That’s induction, but different meaning. Yes, words can have more than one meaning. Are you dumb in the head? So, here’s a peek behind the giant curtains at Razzball, I lower my Bro strap and say to Prospect Itch, “Give me your top rookie for 2021 fantasy baseball.” And he says, “No, you give me yours,” and I say, “What? You’re the prospect guy. I wasn’t being coy, I was just scratching under my Bro strap.” Then he told me Randy Arozarena, and I laughed for ten minutes, which coincided with Randy Arozarena hitting multiple homers in the playoffs and….Dot dot dot…Holy crap, is Randy Arozarena the top rookie going into 2021 fantasy baseball? I’m between him and Sixto Sanchez. This is the 1st year in maybe ever I’m not 100% positive on one rookie as the number one rookie. Last year was obviously Luis Robert, the year before was Vlad Jr. or the year before–You get the picture! Every year there’s a clearcut #1 rookie going into the upcoming season, but I’ve wrestled with this, and I don’t know if there is one in 2021. Wander Franco would be that guy, if I had any faith the Rays would ever promote him early enough for redraft leagues. Ergo/Therego: Welcome to the 2021 rookie series and Randy Arozarena! So, what can we expect from Randy Arozarena for 2021 fantasy baseball?
I didn’t originally buy into the Randy Arozarena being the Randiest of all-time; I thought Randy Dobnak had that title. It’s at least what it says on Dobnak’s Uber bumper. Wasn’t Randy Arozarena a 2nd-tier prospect coming into this year? Not asking, but setting myself up to boogie into my thoughts. It seems like Randy Arozarena was a 2nd-tier prospect when he was blocked by the Cardinals’ crapfecta of Fowler, Bader and O’Neill. Then they had Dylan Carlson breathing down one of those guy’s necks and where was Randy Arozarena going to fit in? Well, the trade to the Rays (shouldn’t he have been traded to the Randies?) freed Arozarena up, and earlier this year, I said, “I honestly thought Arozarena was a hot schmotato, and the best part of him was his last name sounds like a Red Hot Chili Peppers lyric. Psychic spies from Tampa try to steal your fantasy team’s elation, and little girls from Sweden dream of me quoting me quotation, and if you want these kind of dreams of Arozarenication. Also, he has a readymade nickname, the Rice Bowl, because his name split up is Arroz Arena. Damn it, I love him now too! In Triple-A, Arozarena went 12/9/.358 in 64 games in 2019, and he has 25+ steal speed, and roughly 15-homer power. That’ll play the Red Hot Chili Peppers in the Rice Bowl.” And that’s me quoting me! In just over 30 games this year (with playoffs included, and that’s still going, obviously), he went 14/4/.350-ish (I didn’t do the math on the BA). I don’t have a ton of concern for him losing the speed or average (at least not dramatically, he’s a 17% strikeout rate guy). He also has a 9-11% walk rate. The power seems downright goofy. Right now, he has around a 55% HR/FB in his major league career (still including playoffs). Anything over 20% is silly to expect from him. So, instead of 10 homers every month, he hits 2-3 and is back on that formerly predicted 15-homer pace, which might’ve been a hair underselling him. I’m way more interested in him for his contact and speed/power combo. Not sure he’s going to be a superstar like we’ve been seeing for the last week of the playoffs, but he could be a solid, everyday fantasy contributor. Think Kevin Kiermaier without the drain on average. I also don’t fully trust Cash to play him every day in 2021, even if that seems absurd after his huge playoffs. There’s a lot of time between now and, say, next June if he’s slumped for a month. I’m holding my love for the Rice Bowl with its rising steam, but blowing on it to tamp down enthusiasm because of Cash and potential unrealistic expectations from his playoffs performance. For 2021, I’ll give Randy Arozarena projections of 73/22/78/.286/17 in 517 ABs with a chance for more.