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Is Luis Arraez Really Just Ben Revere?

After eating Jonathan Schoop’s lunch last season Luis Arraez went on to draw comparisons to players like Tony Gwynn and Rod Carew. PECOTA recently projected him to win a batting title in 2020, and he’s quickly vaulted into the hearts of Twins fans everywhere. What if he’s Ben Revere though?
Image courtesy of © Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Twins Daily’s Nick Nelson recently workshopped a couple of ideas on Twitter regarding the Minnesota second basemen. Chief among them was that his hard-hit rate was in the 4th percentile, he posted a 19th percentile exit velo, and he didn’t cover the inside part of the plate. Coupled with defensive questions, and those exist to the tune of a -8 DRS at second, you’ve got a light-hitting combination of mediocrity.

An immediate response would be to look at the track record of Arraez in the minors. He posted a career .799 OPS formed almost entirely by average and on-base skills. That same line of thinking could be applied to Ben Revere, who posted a .777 OPS across nearly 2,000 minor league plate appearances. The parallels are more than evident from a production standpoint, but their athletic profiles begged us to dig a bit deeper.

Before we get to the good stuff it’s worth noting that results had similar parallels at the big-league level as well. Although we’re working with just 366 MLB plate appearances for Arraez, he posted a 7.9% strikeout rate, 2.8% whiff rate, and 26.9% chase rate last year. Revere was at 9.2%, 3.4%, and 26.8% over the course of his career. Again, nearly identical. Looking for a differentiator, it’s time to turn results on their head and look at process (which also would incorporate athletic style).

In his final two seasons Revere averaged just north of 27 feet per second on the basepaths. Arraez held his own at 26.9 ft/sec last year but has never been considered the burner Ben was early on in his career. Couple the thought process with approach and this is where the paths change. Revere posted just a 17.9% hard hit rate over his career while generating line drives only one-fifth of the time and hitting ground balls a whopping 61.3% of the time. Conversely, Arraez owned a 34.7% hard hit rate, 29.4% line drive rate, and only a 41.5% ground ball rate in 2019.

In short, Luis understands that the path to success is solid contact on an upward trajectory.

Attached Image: Luis Arraez.png

Although Arraez hasn’t yet developed into much more than a contact hitter, Matthew Taylor recently outlined why that isn’t a narrative to be shocked by should it come to fruition. Despite his lighter hitting profile, Arraez generated a .336 xwOBA in 2019 while Revere’s best season (2015) produced a .305 mark. Further exemplifying his desire to lift baseballs, Arraez owned an 11.4-degree launch angle last season, while Revere never was above 4.4-degree dating back to Statcast’s inception in 2015.

There won’t be any point in Arraez’s career that he becomes the second base version of Miguel Sano. He’s also not the swinging bunt player that the Twins traded to acquire Trevor May. Ben Revere and Luis Arraez posted nearly identical slash lines during their time on the farm, but the how they got there couldn’t be more different.

Obviously the 100th percentile of Arraez is in reaching the heights of those to whom he’s been compared. What he’s done from a statistical measure is much more than the comparison to Revere however, and that floor (Revere) is one he should remain well clear of, barring significant change. Ben Revere was a tough guy to get it past, but Arraez is a disciplined bat with a workable plan that can be implemented and projected for consistent success many years into the future.

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  • Mike Frasier Law, tarheeltwinsfan, nclahammer and 3 others like this

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44 Comments

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jorgenswest
Mar 05 2020 09:13 PM
Revere had a career because of his defense and base running. Arraez will only have a career if his bat is much better than Revere’s.
    • Seth Stohs, Dman, adorduan and 1 other like this

You can get away with a light hitting player like Revere or Arraez when you have a lineup that legitimately just set the new record for HRs and they added another 30+ HR guy. I have no problem if Arraez collects singles and walks if the others will be busy hitting him in.

 

And, as the article mentioned, Revere hit a lot of groundballs, and Arraez hit more line drives, so I think Arraez's performance can be more sustainable if that keeps up.

    • Twins33, Craig Arko, woolywoolhouse and 10 others like this
Arreaz has one strength - hitting for average. If that diminishes he will be fighting for the 26th spot on a roster in the future

The difference between a .315 and a .360 woba is the differnce between a burger at a cafeteria that has sat in a steamer for hours versus thr burger that was at Victory 44. Arraez can improve his fielding, Revere went backwards in the batting. There really is not a similarity

    • Mike Frasier Law, TL, DocBauer and 3 others like this

I think there is a possibility its a fair comparison light hitting and numbers through the minors and early majors are very similar.I think Arraez appears to have more staying power in the discipline and eye at the plate.He doesn't just swing and put the ball in play he knows the strike zone and appears very comfortable even behind in the count (Mauer like).Its all about continuing to get good pitches to hit and forcing the pitching to throw you those good pitches.2020 is a big year.

Ted, love your work and appreciate the OP, but find it a bit strange to compare a CF and 2B 10yrs apart in the beginning of their careers.

Despite changes in philosophy over the years, especially defensive shifts, Arraez nips Revere in every quad split during their milb career. And while it is a very SSS, Arraez EASILY eclipses Revere in those same quad splits for their rookie season.

There is a difference in making contact and making successful contact. It would appear, to this point, that Arraez has better bat control, a better approach, and just a better "hit" factor overall. His eye and control leans to better sustainability and a much better OB%.

None of this is to say he will or will not continue what he showed as a rookie. But it sure appears they are very different players and hitters, as the OP points out in various numbers.

I just don't think they are really comparable despite a few similarities.
    • Dantes929, mikelink45, bighat and 4 others like this

If you want to compare Arraez to a former Twin, how about Chuck Knoblauch - a fellow second-baseman?

 

In Knobby's seven years with the Twins, he won Rookie of the Year, led the league in doubles and triples once each, went to the All-Star game 4 times and scored over 100 runs 4 times as well. He finished his great 1996 season by batting .341.

He also never hit more than 13 HR as a Twin. Everyone was fine with that.

 

 

 

 

    • Dantes929, jbissell, mikelink45 and 7 others like this
Arraez put up a wRC+ of 125 last year. Revere’s career wRC+ was 82. They’re not even remotely close.
    • Twins33, mikelink45, Rigby and 1 other like this
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ToddlerHarmon
Mar 06 2020 07:58 AM
I agree that the Revere comparison is a stretch, but this is a good analysis of *why*

As for comparing to Knoblauch, you have to remember his value (and his batting statistics) were greatly enhanced by his speed and extremely intelligent baserunning. Arraez is not in that class.
    • Mike Frasier Law, Sconnie, David HK and 2 others like this

When Arraez came up last season there was an immediate 'WOW" factor. His base hits, plate presence, and of course batting average. I never once experienced that factor watching Revere.

    • twinssporto, bighat and EPEZRider like this

Are we at a point where HRs are the only measure of a players value?I have no idea if the famous sophomore slump will hit Luis, or if he will simply regress, but I am also a big fan of his and would like to give him some more playing time before we start reaching for comps and attacking what I think is a really great skill set for this lineup.Go Arraez.

    • Sconnie and bighat like this

Are they somewhat similar, yes.Both are smaller players, albeit, Revere has more speed.Due to his arm strength, Revere was an average defender.Given the opportunity to play second base all season, I suspect Arraez will likewise be an average defender...which is a bit better than he was at second last year.

 

But Arraez does two things almost no one does, he hits for a very high average and gets on base at nearly a .400 clip.Although he will have seasons that he doesn't equal last year, look for his career average to be in that area.Yes, he doesn't have much power, but someone who is on base nearly 40% of the time will score lots of runs for the Twins over the next decade.  

    • mikelink45 likes this

If you want to compare Arraez to a former Twin, how about Chuck Knoblauch - a fellow second-baseman?

In Knobby's seven years with the Twins, he won Rookie of the Year, led the league in doubles and triples once each, went to the All-Star game 4 times and scored over 100 runs 4 times as well. He finished his great 1996 season by batting .341.
He also never hit more than 13 HR as a Twin. Everyone was fine with that.

his great 1996 season included a SLG of .517.
    • bighat likes this

One other thing, initially Kirby didn't have power, he developed it. I have high hopes Luis can do the same. If not, I'm extremely happy with a .333 hitting second baseman that wins multiple batting championships.

    • jbissell, mikelink45, David HK and 1 other like this

 

Arreaz has one strength - hitting for average. If that diminishes he will be fighting for the 26th spot on a roster in the future

 

more than one strength; dude also gets a lot of walks for someone who collects that many hits. He controls the strike zone, which is another strength.

    • jbissell, puckstopper1 and bighat like this
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tarheeltwinsfan
Mar 06 2020 09:12 AM

Very interesting article and discussion. Thanks.

    • bighat likes this

 

Are we at a point where HRs are the only measure of a players value? 

Nope, it's WAR, OPS+, wOBA, wRC+, and BABIP.

 

You can hit .276 with 32 HR and 109 RBI while batting cleanup on a 100+ win team - doesn't matter. You'll be considered a by many on this thread to be a below-average player who needs to be replaced by a guy who's never taken a MLB at bat.

 

As for your thoughts on Arraez, I couldn't agree more. Let's be happy with what we have. He's got plenty of room to grow, and having a high-average slap-hitting singles/doubles guy at the top of this lineup isn't a bad thing.

    • Dantes929, mikelink45, Sconnie and 3 others like this

99% of major league hitting is about being able to turn on an inner third fastball. Major league pitching is working against that, luring hitters further and further toward and off the outer third. Every once in a while someone squeaks through the system to the show who fits into a 1% that looks for the ball on the outer third and tries to spray it away. There's room for success doing it because pitchers aren't prepared for it or just don't care. If you only have to face a guy like that once in a while, why would you waste time preparing for it? It's the same reason that there can always be one or two knuckle ball pitchers. 

 

I think pitchers probably will be able to adjust to Arraez. If they can beat him with fastballs on the inner third, he's done. If can show that he can turn on those from time to time and make them think twice, he'll be okay. His 2019 spray chart shows four home runs all to right field, so that seems like a good sign. Not sure what pitches they were off of though...

 

Ten minutes later:

 

Okay, there are four and I found the videos for all of them on MLB.com. 1 fb 93 center away, 1 curve 84 center, 1 fb 92 center in, 1 curve 83 down in. 

 

So there is one fastball edging close to the inner third and he really crushes it. Nice.

 

 

 

You can get away with a light hitting player like Revere or Arraez when you have a lineup that legitimately just set the new record for HRs and they added another 30+ HR guy. I have no problem if Arraez collects singles and walks if the others will be busy hitting him in.

 

And, as the article mentioned, Revere hit a lot of groundballs, and Arraez hit more line drives, so I think Arraez's performance can be more sustainable if that keeps up.

This was my immediate thought as well. An OBP guy really won't help you if there's no one to drive him in. Driving people in isn't going to be an issue with this lineup

Why does every player have to have a comp? Who is the comp of 39 year old Cruz? The guy is a hitting fool and I don't care if he never hits more than 5 HR in a season. If he continues to master the zone, he will be north of .300BA for the foreseeable future. He works pitchers deep and waits for his pitch, not many do that at his age. Give me 9 of him over 9 guys striking out 180 times a year. It isn't sexy, but getting on base is effective

I think the article does a pretty good job of presenting the 'why' for why Arraez will NOT be Revere.

 

I'm not one that thinks Arraez will develop much power (especially if the ball goes back to recent, pre-2019, standards). But, he's simply a much better hitter than Revere ever was. Whatever slapping and sprinting that Revere was able to succeed with in the minors, it failed pretty much immediately at the major league level. When you watched him, you didn't need analytics to think, "boy, there's an awful swing".

a simply 'no' would have been easier than the few hundred words you pushed out here.Better yet, how about not doing comparisons between players that have very little in common.

    • heresthething likes this

Only if he can do a somersault on the base paths while running out a triple.

    • SQUIRREL, USAFChief, DocBauer and 2 others like this

 

Are they somewhat similar, yes.Both are smaller players, albeit, Revere has more speed.Due to his arm strength, Revere was an average defender.Given the opportunity to play second base all season, I suspect Arraez will likewise be an average defender...which is a bit better than he was at second last year.

 

But Arraez does two things almost no one does, he hits for a very high average and gets on base at nearly a .400 clip.Although he will have seasons that he doesn't equal last year, look for his career average to be in that area.Yes, he doesn't have much power, but someone who is on base nearly 40% of the time will score lots of runs for the Twins over the next decade.  

 

Arraez isn't that small. He's grown, and he's put himself in really good shape. He's strong, though I don't expect he'll ever hit more than 10 homers in a season, by any means. And, we forget about the 2019 ball which probably helped Arraez to a couple of extra homers. 

For starters, Revere really wasn't that bad. In fact, if my memory serves, he was good enough that there was some dismay when he was traded.Weak arm and low power were the knocks. I always said if his OBP was near .350 he would be very useful.Didn't happen. As pointed out earlier, their minor league stats were similar but not identical.Arraez has him beat on every stat I looked at. Still, the same standard applies. Get on base near .350 is acceptable. Higher than .350 is plenty to keep him in the majors and an asset on a power team. Not to mention, in a tight spot late in the game where you needed a hit or just to put bat on the ball, it wasn't Polanco, Kepler or even Cruz that I wanted up there. Last year late it was Arraez.

    • bighat and Melissa like this

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