Randy Arozarena (TB): 3-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
Randy Arozarena took the league by storm in last year’s playoffs after being called up late in the season by Tampa Bay, hitting .420 with a record-setting 10 postseason home runs. His outstanding run in the postseason ballooned expectations for Arozarena heading into the 2021 season. He got off to a strong start but has been streaky for much of the year. After going deep 10 times between April and June, Arozarena was held without a home run from June 17 to just two nights ago on July 20. He followed up Tuesday night’s performance with another strong game last night, hitting two home runs and finishing the game 3-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
It was not only Arozarena’s power that left him during that stretch. His average dropped 23 points from .271 to .248, and he was held without a stolen base during that time. His play over the last two games has come as a surprise to many, but perhaps not to Tampa Bay’s hitting coach Chad Mottola, who said “There’s been about four or five days running where we’ve seen the bat speed show up again … He’s narrowed up his stance a little bit, creating a little more freedom. …” (RotoWire).
Isn’t it amazing what one simple adjustment can do for someone’s swing? Now let’s be clear, a simple adjustment does not equate to an easy adjustment. Surely Mottola and Arozarena have spent hours in the cage getting comfortable and working on timing with the more narrow stance. When Mottola says that a narrower stance allows “more freedom,” he means that it allows the batter to stay looser with the rest of his body and gives him more options on how to get to a strong power position in his load. Only time will tell if this change is here for good or if we are just looking at another hot streak, but I would expect Arozarena to have a very strong second half for Tampa Bay.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Wednesday
J.D. Martinez (BOS): 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI.
After an underwhelming 2020 season, Martinez is having a huge bounceback year in 2021. He is batting over .300 and after last night now has 20 home runs on the season. Martinez has reached base in seven of his last nine plate appearances and has at least one base hit in 11 of the 14 games he has played in July.
Rafael Ortega (CHC): 2-3, 3B, RBI, SB.
Cubs manager David Ross penciled Ortega into the leadoff spot last night and he did not disappoint. Ortega did his damage early, picking up a single in the first and a triple in the third. He would steal second base after his single and was caught trying to steal home after his triple. Ortega has been playing well coming out of the All-Star break, going 6-13 since the return to play.
Jorge Polanco (MIN): 3-4, 2B, HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, BB, SB.
Polanco has been in 2019 form since the return from the All-Star break. He has homered in back-to-back contests and has six RBI in his last three games. Last night, Polanco did it all. After a walk and a single earlier in the game, Polanco hit a three-run jack to right to extend the Twins’ lead to 6-1. He then doubled in the ninth and would go on to steal third base.
Enrique Hernandez (BOS): 2-4, 2B, HR, R, 2 RBI, BB.
Hernandez was ice cold coming out of the break, getting 1 hit across 17 at-bats between July 10 and July 18. He seemed to break out of that slump with a multi-home run performance on the 19th, and he continued to hammer the ball with two extra-base hits last night. Kiké’s home run was the first of five Red Sox home runs in the team’s 7-4 win over Toronto.
Fernando Tatis Jr. (SD): 2-3, HR, R, 2 RBI, BB.
Tatis had gone seven games without a home run until last night, where his two-run shot extended San Diego’s lead over Atlanta to 3-0. That blast was his 29th of the season for the Padres. Tatis is well on his way to another 30-30 season, once again proving himself one of the most valuable players in fantasy baseball.
Ryan Mountcastle (BAL): 2-3, HR, R, 2 RBI, BB.
The 24-year-old has fallen back down to earth a scorching hot June, in which he hit .326 with nine home runs. In 45 at-bats since the start of July, Mountcastle is hitting just .178 with just one home run, which came last night. He is hoping his multi-hit effort will get him going down the stretch for the Orioles.
Daulton Varsho (ARI): 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI.
Arizona’s young catcher is not known for his offensive prowess, but his last two games have been two of his stronger performances at the plate this season. Last night was Varsho’s second multi-hit game in a row, and he hit his second long ball of the year to stretch Arizona’s lead to two in the seventh inning.
Nick Ahmed (ARI): 3-4, 2 2B, RBI, SB.
Ahmed hit a pair of doubles in Arizona’s win last night, including one that drove in the game-tying run in the fourth inning. He also added a stolen base on the night, his sixth of the year. Ahmed has just been thrown out stealing twice this year and has been hot for Arizona recently, with three multi-hit performances coming in his last three appearances.
Bryan Reynolds (PIT): 3-4, 2B.
Reynolds has come out of the All-Star break just as hot as he went into it. He is 9-25 with a home run in his last six games and has recorded at least one base hit in eight of his last ten games. Last night was more of the same for Reynolds, who did not cash in any RBI but did earn three hits on the night. One can’t help but wonder what his RBI numbers would look like if he played on a decent team.