Travis d’Arnaud was a top-20 prospect and expected to be the Mets’ long-term answer at catcher when they acquired him from Toronto in a blockbuster 2012 trade.
A mixture of injuries and regression at the plate have long since dropped him from potential star to afterthought. He was signed midseason this year by the Rays after the Dodgers cut him.
Despite his low profile and minimal expectations at this point in his career, d’Arnaud delivered a surprise power onslaught at Yankee Stadium on Monday, hitting three home runs and producing all five RBIs in a 5-4 Rays victory.
After the game, he told reporters it was the “coolest night ever” in his career. Hitting a go-ahead home run against Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman – with two outs and two strikes no less – makes that statement believable.
The catcher was quietly putting together a solid season for Tampa Bay even before Monday’s outburst. Now, he has nine home runs and the second-best slugging percentage of his disappointing career thus far.
Even if this level of play doesn’t keep up, d’Arnaud’s night in New York will be a favorite obscure reference among baseball fans for the remainder of his career.