The Search for Randy Arozarena

Not to continue beating a dead horse, but the 2024 Tampa Bay Rays have not lived up to expectations. Under .500 once again, the struggles have continued for the Rays in all facets of the game. A lackluster start for All-Star outfielder Randy Arozarena makes this all the more apparent.

Arozarena is the face of the Rays organization, showing up in nearly all the team’s ads and social media posts. He’s failed to show up where it matters most, however, which is on the field. Many pundits have pointed to Arozarena’s off-season bulk-up as a potential source of his woes. Some have speculated that it’s a post-homerun derby hangover. Whatever the reason may be, the fact remains that Arozarena is not the same this season.

Where is the Real Randy Arozarena?

At the plate

This is easily the most obvious source of Arozarena’s troubles in 2024. With a batting average hovering around .150 for most of the season, Arozarena is nearly 100 points off his career average. This is about the same pace that he is off his .340 career on-base percentage this year, sitting at .250 currently. This lack of prowess in the batter’s box has inherently led to a lack of hits and walks, which has also sent Arozarena’s number of runs scored tumbling.

Arozarena’s ability to drive in the runs has also taken a hit thanks to his performance at the plate. His 18 runs batted in so far this season are on pace to be the worst of his career. If not for his eight home runs propping up this number, the situation would be even more dire.

Worst of all may be Arozarena’s lack of performance in high-pressure situations. From the seventh inning on, his already anemic batting average falls even further to .125. Arozarena’s batting average with the bases loaded is nonexistent, literally. In seven at-bats with the bases full, he has no hits, no walks, no RBIs, and three strikeouts.

On the base paths

On the rare occasion, Arozarena makes it on base this season, he’s maintained an aggressive attitude in stealing bases. He is on pace for 21 stolen bases this season, only one off his 22 in 2023. Given that Arozarena will have about 70 fewer stolen base opportunities should his hitting woes continue according to Baseball Reference, this number is quite impressive. This aggressive stance, however, has led to two pickoffs already this season, on pace to match his last two years combined.

Arozarena’s aggressiveness has not extended to all aspects of his baserunning. Getting a bit deep in the Sabermetric weeds, we can look at his extra-base taken percentage. This stat tells us how often a batter will stretch a single into a double or double into a triple. Given that he hasn’t been on base nearly as much this season, Arozarena has been happy to take his single or the rare double and not push for the extra base. Averaging around 48% over the last three seasons, Arozarena sits at 21% this year, effectively taking himself out of scoring position in many situations.

In the field

With no errors and a 1.000 fielding percentage this season, there appear to be no issues for Arozarena in the outfield. Looking at advanced fielding metrics like runs prevented and outs above average, Arozarena slots in the middle of the pack in most categories. By all accounts, his fielding won’t win you any games, but it also won’t likely lose you any either.

This is the one area of the game that relies more on the eye test than stats, however. Arozarena has always looked a bit casual in his fielding efforts, occasionally pulling off a stunning display like this home run-robbing catch in the World Baseball Classic. While it is hard to quantify, the eye test this year tells us that the extra bulk and lack of production may be weighing down Arozarena, both literally and figuratively. His hustle level leaves much to be desired and he seems uninterested at times.

Currently on a one-year, $8.1 million contract, having such a down year is not what Arozarena or the Rays had hoped for. While about two-thirds of the season remains, allowing Arozarena to work out his issues in hopes that he returns to form may not be an option for a team with World Series aspirations. A sell-high organization like the Rays may look to get a return while they can and perhaps move on from Arozarena before the trade deadline.

Main Image: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

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