The odds of a Tampa Bay Rays player being named American League Rookie of the Year jumped substantially in 2021, as for the first time in franchise history, two of its rookies have been named finalists for the award.
The Baseball Writers Association of America announced the finalists for the award Monday evening, and both outfielder Randy Arozarena and shortstop Wander Franco are in the top three of the voting for the prize, joined by Astros pitcher Luis Garcia.
Arozarena, who was named the American League Championship Series MVP in 2020, was expected to be one of the biggest names considered for the award before the year, and the 26-year-old outfielder did not fail. He finished with a slash line of .274/.356/.459 with 20 home runs, 69 RBI and 20 stolen bases, becoming just the third player in franchise history to hit 20 homers and steal 20 bases in the same season.
Meanwhile, Franco made it to the big leagues on June 22, and ended up playing 70 games with the Rays. The 20-year-old ended up hitting .288/.347/.463 with seven home runs and 39 RBI. He also tied a major league record by reaching base safely in 43 consecutive games, tying the mark set by hall-of-famer Frank Robinson in 1956.
If either Arozarena or Franco wins the award, he would become the fourth player in Rays franchise history to be named Rookie of the Year, following third baseman Evan Longoria in 2008, pitcher Jeremy Hellickson in 2011, and outfielder Wil Myers in 2013. The two are the second pair of Rays teammates to be named finalists for the award following Myers and Chris Archer (who finished third) in 2013.
The winner will be announced on MLB Network November 15.