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Comments on 41 MLB baseball I visited with 5 to go

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Twins Blogosphere

Looking Back at Arráez’s First Full Season in the Majors

Luis Arráez surprised many fans when he came up to the majors last year and played at batting title-worthy level. However, many of us decided to tread lightly, as his sample size last year wasn’t great. Now, he’s getting close to accumulating “full season” numbers and we decided to analyze how he’s performed so far.
Image courtesy of Image courtesy of © Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Currently 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.

His regression
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.

His improvements
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.

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Definitely interesting, but I wonder if his 2020 stats are reliable for who he is. He's been playing with an injured knee and if you can't set your weight right, your whole game is off.

    • DocBauer and JoshDungan1 like this

I wonder what his perfect location in a lineup would be. How many pitches does he average in an at-bat is a concern.


Also, overall, the Twins seem to be fielding better than average. Do we like him and Polanco up the middle. Is there a future for him as a Twin? What do we do with Lewis and the haord of other shortstops in the wings?

Sep 24 2020 02:29 PM


Definitely interesting, but I wonder if his 2020 stats are reliable for who he is. He's been playing with an injured knee and if you can't set your weight right, your whole game is off.


Especially with how much torque goes into his swing. I mean all swings heavily involve the knees but Arraez in particular I'm sure has to be careful with his.


I wonder what his perfect location in a lineup would be. 



I'm in favor of putting whoever gets on base the most often (highest OBA) in the leadoff spot, with the 2nd highest in the 2nd spot, and so on.Of course, if there are players that are close in that stat, then OPS and the speed of the player may come into play as to where they hit.  



    • DocBauer likes this

This was an interesting read.You look at the overall numbers this year and feel he regressed to what skeptics thought of him because of BABIP was not sustainable.I have argued he is the exception as it pertains to BABIP because he is so good at getting bat to ball and is not trying to hit HR.He has some power, but he is more line drive guy.I think early on he was dealing with injury and having to make adjustment as teams were defending differently and pitching him different.I think he is good enough that he started to adjust to how he was pitched and defended.Nice to read about the improved defense as well.  

    • South Dakota Tom likes this

I disagree that Arraez was not hurt by shifts.They shifted on him, but they were not extreme shifts. They took away his hits up the middle.I am saying this from memory, I don't have any charts in front of me. This is the impression I got from watching him hit too many "at'em balls". 

This was to be expected.Teams had an off season plus shutdownto analyze and prepare their defensive alignments.The last two weeks, Arraez was indeed reacting to these adjustments and was back to "hitting them where they ain't". 

I look forward towatching Arraez in future years and to improvements he makes in both his hitting and fielding. I think he is a gem of a hitter and fun to watch.:)

    • Sielk likes this

I always hope we find a star at every position. Arraez is, to me, a short term fill, and I hope he doesn't get in the way of finding a better fielding, and higher OPS long term solution. 

I love the tenacity he played with last year and that’s been missing this year. My bigger concern is Arraez appear to be attempting to hit for more power this year, and I believe that’s why his “x” stats have gone up but real stats have suffered. A line drive hitter getting more loft hits fly outs.

Conversely, Polanco appears to be trying Arraez’s approach from last year and is suffering too. I expect the departure of Lawson as hitting coach has something to do with it. Hopefully they figure this out over the winter, I think Arraez has a great MLB future if he sticks to his strengths.
^Rowson 😅

I'm hoping Arraez becomes a better-hitting Adrianza. Versatile infield/outfield guy that hits for high avg. When Lewis arrives, Royce should go straight to SS, with Polanco to 2B. Better fit for both guys, and Arraez is the super-sub, along with Gonzo.

South Dakota Tom
Sep 24 2020 09:28 PM

Hard to see Marwin being a part of the future here, isn't it? Arraez is younger, cheaper, a potential batting champ-level hitter.Under your scenario, Lewis pushes his way into the infield (SS) and for 2B we would have Polanco, Arraez, Adrianza as lower-cost or under control options and depth, plus Blankenhorn, Gordon, and ("more than anyone else in the pipeline, I want him to break out and have a good year") Wander Javier.I think if what you suggest is true, there is almost no reason to keep Arraez, as he is position-limited.I don't want to lose him or reduce his impact on this team as a table-setter, leadoff hitter, and general spark plug. 


Since the outfield with potential call-ups is getting very crowded, the dollars will be spent locking up existing position players and looking for pitching help, as everyone does. Those dollars, relative to age and production, are better spent elsewhere.