Looking Back at Arráez’s First Full Season in the Majors
Image courtesy of Image courtesy of © Tim Heitman-USA TODAY SportsCurrently Arráez has got 479 plate appearances as a major leaguer, nearing the minimum to qualify for a batting title, in a 162-game season. When comparing his two seasons (which we’re going to do shortly), we can find many aspects in which he’s had some regression, but also some improvements. Before we get to such comparison, let’s look at what he’s accomplished overall.
In 122 games since making his MLB debut, Arráez has maintained a .323/.384/.414 (.798 OPS) slashline and, both, his wRC+ and OPS+ have been 116, which indicates that he’s been an above average hitter so far. Combining both seasons, his batting average is the fourth best in baseball (min. 450 PA) which is pretty impressive, if you ask me.
But that’s not all. The young Venezuelan has also been one of the most disciplined batters in the league. Since the start of the 2019 season, his 8.4% strikeout rate (K%) ranks second best in baseball, while the 1.10 Walk-to-strikeout ratio (BB/K) ranks third. He’s been the best in baseball in Contact% (92.9), O-Contact% (89.2) and SwStr% (3.0). Only one other batter has had a better Z-Contact% than his (95.2). As we’re going to see next, some of his numbers this year were slightly worse than last year, but still, if he can pull off similar numbers over a full season, the Twins are in for a treat.
Let’s dig some more to look in what things he’s regressed or improved this year, compared to last year.
Basically, Arráez has been striking out more and walking less this year. His ability to draw walks wasn’t good in the first place, with a 9.8% Walk rate (BB%) in 2019, but it’s gotten worse this year, dropping to 7.1%. He would rank 116th out of 146 qualified batters in that metric, if he qualified this season. His K% has also increased from 7.9% last year to 9.7% this year. But the good news here is that, in spite of the regression, his current rate would rank second best in the majors, if he qualified.
Luck hasn’t been on his side when it comes to putting balls in play. His Batting average on balls in play (BABIP) has dropped from .355 last year to .319 this year. Shifting hasn’t played a role here, as opposing teams have shifted against him only 4.4% of the time, due to his constant opposite field hits. Besides, his Weighted on-base average (wOBA) against the shift this season has been .417, much better than the .290 when there’s no shift.
His batting average also dropped considerably, from .334 last year to .288 this year. However, both his AVG and BABIP suffered because of a specific slump he went through in early August. In the 15 games before he was placed on the Injured List (dating exactly to Aug. 12), he slashed .358/.382/.434 (.816), with a .380 BABIP. So, it may be safe to say that his overall numbers were greatly affected by that one, short slump.
We discussed how luck hasn’t been in Arráez’ side this year, when looking at his overall statistics. And another way to prove that is to look at how he’s fared in the expected outcome stats, which assess a player’s performance without taking into consideration defense and ballpark factors. They provide a more pure way to look at how right a player has done his part.
Three major expected stats are used more frequently by Statcast, to show a player’s pure performance: Expected Batting Average (xBA), Expected Slugging (xSLG) and Expected Weighted On-Base Average (xwOBA). Arráez has improved in all of them this year! His xBA improved from .294 to .307, his xSLG from .417 to .457 and his xWOBA from .342 to .361. Each one of them is well above league average, too. In other words, Arráez has been doing all the right things at the plate and he is due to a growth in his productivity. You couldn’t expect better news on the verge of the postseason.
Last, but not least, here’s where the second baseman improved the most this year: his defense. This year’s sample isn’t very long (however less than 40% shorter than last year’s), but Arráez has evolved from a well below average defender at second base into a decent one. Among all second basemen with at least 240 innings on the field, he ranks 7th in baseball in Defensive runs saved (DRS), with +2, and 9th in Ultimate zone rating (UZR), with +0.6. They improved from -8 DRS and -5 UZR last year.
In conclusion, Luis Arráez hasn’t disappointed in his first “full season” in the majors. He seems to be on the right path to become one of the most important pieces of the team's long term future. But not only the long term. If he keeps up his most recent numbers, taking them into the postseason, he’s bound to be a great contributor to an eventual long playoff run.
MORE FROM TWINS DAILY
— Latest Twins coverage from our writers
— Recent Twins discussion in our forums
— Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
- TwinsTakes-RD likes this