Has any player in big-league history won MVP honors of a league championship series and then won Rookie of the Year honors the next season? Almost surely not, but Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Randy Arozarena could accomplish that in 2021 as the 2020 ALCS MVP is the +400 favorite on the William Hill Sportsbook MLB odds to take home AL Rookie of the Year, followed by Mariners outfielder Jarred Kelenic (+750) and White Sox outfielder/first baseman/DH Andrew Vaughn (+800).
Unless you were a Rays fan, you may not have heard of Arozarena last year until the playoffs began. The 26-year-old Cuban got just 64 regular-season at-bats for the AL East champions and hit .281 with seven homers and 11 RBIs. Solid numbers, for sure, but then Arozarena went nuts in the postseason as the Rays reached the World Series for the second time in team history.
In 77 playoff at-bats, Arozarena hit .377 with 29 hits, 10 homers, 14 RBIs, 19 runs scored and a .442 on-base percentage, all easily leading the Rays. Arozarena set MLB records for the most hits, home runs and total bases in a single postseason. His home run in Game 6 of the World Series against the Dodgers gave him Tampa Bay's postseason record for most career home runs and hits. Alas, the Dodgers won Game 6 to win their first title since 1988.
MLB has some wonky rules for who keeps their rookie status and such, especially off the very unusual 60-game shortened 2020 regular season, but Arozarena is technically a rookie. The Rays haven't been around all that long but have had three AL Rookies of the Year, last Wil Myers in 2013. A total of 14 of the last 18 Rookies of the Year overall have been position players.
MLB.com ranks the Mariners' Kelenic as the No. 4 overall prospect in the sport. You may remember former Mariners team president Kevin Mather was caught on video this winter saying the team was not going to allow Kelenic to open the season with the big club for service-time reasons. Mather eventually stepped down after the firestorm that brought, but he wasn't wrong: Kelenic hit .333 this spring with two homers but was recently sent to minor-league camp. He should be back up in mid-to-late April.
The White Sox's Vaughn is ranked as the No. 14 overall prospect and might not have started the season in the majors but will now that young slugging outfielder Eloy Jimenez will miss 5-6 months for the AL Central favorites. The Sox are hoping Vaughn can fill in as the left fielder. The third overall pick in the 2019 draft, Vaughn never got above High-A Winston-Salem in the minors and had only 245 minor-league plate appearances.
William Hill AL Rookie of the Year favorites
- Randy Arozarena +400
- Jarred Kelenic +750
- Andrew Vaughn +800
- Ryan Mountcastle +1200
- Wander Franco +1200
- Nate Pearson +1200
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