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Front Page: Was Luis Arraez for Real in 2019?

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Could Luis Arraez Be the Next Jose Altuve?

In a season filled with incredible stories, the emergence of Luis Arraez and his unique skill set is one of the most impressive and unexpected. Beyond Arraez’ value as a spark plug for the Twins offense, he offers a long term infield solution and another young building block which will allow the Twins to add to their emerging competitive window.
Image courtesy of © David Berding-USA TODAY Sports
Arraez has put up an incredible rookie campaign in 2019. In 92 games, he managed a .344/.399/.439 line with a 2.1 fWAR and 125 wRC+. Digging into some of Arraez Statcast numbers tells a conflicting story. Arraez has a high BaBIP (.355), an extremely low 2.7% barrel % (Jorge Polanco 6.7%), and a hard hit rate of 22.1% (Jorge Polanco 33%). Throughout his minor league career, Arraez has put up remarkably similar (and impressive hitting lines). So how is he sustaining success without a great deal of hard contact?

Diving into Arraez’ strike zone control is integral in understanding his future value to the Twins. Looking at Arraez swing take profile is a useful starting point. Put simply, Arraez combines an exceptional understanding of the strike zone with elite bat to ball skills. Arraez is particularly successful in taking pitches he has little opportunity to take advantage of (‘chase’ and ‘waste’ pitches). Compared to league average, Arraez barely ever gives away a swinging strike.

Attached Image: ArraezA.png
Attached Image: ArraezB.png

Arraez amazing strike zone control is represented in a different way below. On the left is the league swing % profile for 2019 for a minimum five swings. In the right is Arraez’ swing profile for a minimum of five swings. He simply doesn’t swing at the ball outside of the strike zone. The outcome here is he is making lots of contact with pitches in and around the heart of the strike zone (because he spits on everything else). Hard contact is not as integral to Arraez has he’s always getting great pitches to hit.

Attached Image: ArraezC.png
Attached Image: ArraezD.png

So what can Twins fans expect from Arraez moving forwards? Arraez shares similar numbers with another diminutive Venezuelan from early in his career, Jose Altuve.

In 2014 Altuve emerged as a star for the Astros. In 158 games, Altuve managed a .341/.377/.453 line similar to Arraez’ 2019 debut. While some of Altuve’s early value was derived from base-running (53 swipes in 2014, a tendency and skill sert Arraez does not share), their similarities run beyond their hitting lines. Arraez and Altuve share similar batted ball profiles (Arraez 2019, Altuve 2014), with Arraez at approximately 30% LD% to Altuve’s 23% and sharing a FB% of around 29%. During his emergence, Altuve managed a Hard% 23.8%, compared to Arraez’ 34.7%. Since his 2014 season, in which he hit seven HR, Altuve has increased his Hard%, FB%, Barrel %, and exit velocity, increasing his HR totals to a career high 31 in 2019. It seems likely that if Arraez can progress in the amount of quality contact he makes, his HR totals can progress well beyond the four he hit in 2019, already an increase from the six he hit across five previous MiLB seasons.

In his rookie season, Arraez already has superior plate discipline numbers to Altuve. While there is no predicting player development. There is no reason Arraez can’t turn into a top of the lineup hitter who puts up 15 HR, hits .300, and scores 100 runs on a consistent basis. With a remarkable 2019 debut, Arraez has cemented himself firmly in the Twins long term infield plans. The Twins getting back their offensive catalyst against the Yankees would be an added bonus.

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14 Comments

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Kelly Vance
Oct 04 2019 11:03 AM

Luis is the second baseman and second batter of the future. 

 

His contact skills make him a natural #2 hitter. If Buck can't lead off then maybe Polanco becomes the leadoff hitter. Nothing wrong with starting off with two high average hitters ahead of Cruz and Sano.I'd hit Rosie 5th, but he being a lefty slots him between the two righty big boppers.

 

I think the Altuve comparison is a little bit of a stretch. Jose hits for more power usually. But they are both good sticks 

    • jkcarew and Huskertwin like this
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operation mindcrime
Oct 04 2019 11:06 AM
A future MVP! I'll take it!

I really like how you showed the importance of more numbers to really show his potential value.I will agree, Arraez needs to increase hard contact percent to really become a super star.Many people, who expect regression, point out low hard contact rate compared to very high BABIP, and may would say not sustainable.However, when you point he hardly strikes out or chases bad pitches, and he puts the ball in play a ton, it shows he can sustain the average, in my opinion.I believe many of his not hard hit ball hits may be by design, and not just luck.What do I mean by that?Someone with strike zone and bat control like he has can look at how they are defending him and will put ball where they are leaving holes, combined with pitches.I believe that he looks at defense and then will look for a zone to try to hit the ball there.That is why he takes some pitches down the pipe because he was looking for a different pitch to hit.You can almost see it on his face when he takes one of those like he should have looked for it and drove it.From the little I have seen of him I think Mr. Arraez will start to learn much more how he is being pitched and make adjustments and drive some of the meat balls.Even if he does not and manages to be on OBP of .400 with solid at bats, I will take that.Time will tell how he develops but I expect big things from him. 

With his current swing/approach, I don't see Arraez developing Altuve's power. Of course, Altuve didn't develop his power until later...so, maybe. But, I think Arraez would need to change his approach, and he doesn't have much incentive to do that...yet. Altuve developed power later...but he was also more or less 'forced' to make aggressive adjustments after OPS'ing 740/678 in his first two full seasons.

 

Also, Altuve is much faster than Arraez. Much.

I'll be happy if he just becomes a good glove, 400 obp and maybe 10-15 homers a year, second baseman.

    • DocBauer and jkcarew like this

Yes, although as stated above probably with a bit less power and speed.

I don't think so, but I hope so. Altuve just hit a 2 run HR in Game 1 of the ALDS.

    • SQUIRREL likes this

I didn't read this yet, but the answer to the question title is: no.

    • SQUIRREL and jud6312 like this
Not likely.
    • SQUIRREL, Twins33, Platoon and 1 other like this
No. It’s kind of a ridiculous notion to be honest.
    • Mike Sixel and jud6312 like this
A nice on base guy. An Altuve? Not. Not the power. Not the glove. Not the speed. Doesn't make him a bad ball player at all. But not a comparable to one of the better players around. I will way this though. If I was a pitcher I would find him aggravating as hell. Almost impossible to get a ball past him!
    • Mike Sixel, adorduan, wsnydes and 1 other like this

He is so refreshing.If he maintains the discipline at the plate he has a great future.Lets not put HR pressure on him.We have enough bombas - we need men on base

    • Huskertwin likes this

Arraez will be the next Luis Arraez.And that will make Twins fans very very happy.:)

    • ScrapTheNickname, mikelink45, Platoon and 1 other like this
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SpicyGarvSauce
Oct 07 2019 10:58 AM

If you want a comp for Luis Arraez...

 

It is Luis Castillo.

    • Mike Sixel likes this

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