The breakout star of the 2020 MLB postseason has undoubtedly been Rays outfielder Randy Arozarena, who seemingly came out of nowhere to help lead Tampa Bay to the World Series. Well, he didn't exactly come out of nowhere. In fact, the Nationals faced him last year in the postseason en route to their World Series title.
You may not remember the name, as memorable as 'Arozarena' is, but he was a member of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2019, the team the Nationals swept in the NLCS. Arozarena was a rookie bench player and had two plate appearances; one in the sixth inning of Game 1 and the other in the third inning of Game 4.
Arozarena reached base after getting hit by an Anibal Sanchez pitch in the Game 1 at-bat and he also stole a base. Patrick Corbin then struck him out in Game 4.
It was a quiet showing for a guy who would one year later have a very loud postseason. And it's interesting to wonder how things could have been different if Arozarena had the success he's found this October one year ago.
— SI MLB (@si_mlb) October 24, 2020
The Nationals swept the Cardinals and outscored them 20-6, so there was a wide margin for error. One hot bat would not have changed the outcome of the series, necessarily. But there is no doubt St. Louis could have used the help, as offense was their biggest problem.
The Cardinals managed only 16 total hits in their four games against the Nats in 2019. Arozarena alone accounted for nine runs and four homers in seven games against the Astros in the ALCS. And for that, he won ALCS MVP.
Through 17 total games this postseason, Arozarena is batting .354 with eight homers, 15 runs, 11 RBI and eight walks. In Game 3 of the World Series on Friday night, he tied the MLB record for home runs in a single playoff run.
If Arozarena did that last year, and the Nationals felt the brunt of it, it would have been familiar, in a way. He wouldn't be the first young player to catch the Nats by surprise in the playoffs. Arozarena could have been the next Pete Kozma, Daniel Descalso or Joe Panik.
But he wasn't. He had that type of run in him, it just wasn't meant to happen for another year. Luckily, for the Nats.