Luis Arraez Entering the AL Rookie of the Year Race
Image courtesy of © Ben Ludeman-USA TODAY SportsThe Arraez Resume'
Arraez entered play on Tuesday hitting .350/.421/.446 with 12 extra-base hits in just over 200 plate appearances. He has coaxed 22 walks and has struck out only 14 times. Among AL rookies with 200 plate appearances, he has the highest batting average by 50 points and the highest OBP by 40 points. His 6.9 K% is almost half as low as the second-place rookie on the leaderboard.
One of Arraez’s biggest hurdles to winning the award will be his lack of plate appearances. He should finish with close to 370 plate appearances, but some other rookies already have over 300 plate appearances to their credit. Arraez will also be hurt because other rookies will be able to accrue more WAR because of their getting to the big leagues before him.
According to FanGraphs, Arraez currently ranks fourth in WAR among AL rookie batters. Less than a week ago, he ranked sixth on this list. He currently trails Tampa’s Brandon Lowe (2.5 WAR), New York’s Mike Tauchman (2.5 WAR) and Seattle’s Daniel Vogelbach (2.2 WAR). None of these players are exactly household names but the real competition might come from other more well-known players.
Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is the big name in the AL ROY competition. So far this season, he has hit .274/.346/.459 with 34 extra-base hits in 367 plate appearances. FanGraphs has his WAR total as 0.5 and his total is low because of his negative value as a baserunner and a defender. He still had a ton of hype coming into the year and he has compiled a solid offensive resume.
Some other former top prospects to consider are Chicago’s Eloy Jimenez and Toronto’s Cavan Biggio. Jimenez’ 19 home runs are second among AL rookies, but his other offensive numbers might make it tough to consider him a front-runner. He is hitting .237/.294/.453 with 27 extra-base hits and he has provided negative value on the defensive side. Biggio’s .205 batting average is tough to swallow, but he is getting on base a third of the time and he has 17 extra-base hits in 63 games.
As far as pitchers, Spencer Turnbull has been worth 2.0 WAR on a bad Tigers team. He has a 3.68 ERA, a 1.32 WHIP, and a 98 to 42 strikeout to walk ratio in 107 2/3 innings. John Means represented the Orioles in the All-Star Game this season and he has a 3.36 ERA with a 1.16 WHIP to go along with an 83 to 28 strikeout to walk ratio. Both players have been decent, but neither will likely have a shot at the award.
Minnesota hasn’t had a top-three finisher for AL ROY since 2015 when Miguel Sano finished a distant third behind Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor. During Minnesota’s last run to a division title in 2010, Danny Valencia earned enough votes to finish a distant third in the voting. One must go back all the way to the mid-90s to find Minnesota’s last AL ROY winner when Marty Cordova took home the hardware after beating out Garret Anderson and Andy Pettitte.
Voting for the Rookie of the Year Awards is different than voting for other year-end honors. While most awards go to the player that had the best overall season, this isn’t always the case of the ROY. I’ve heard from voters that they approach voting for this award by looking at the candidates and voting for not only who had a good season, but also who will have a long-term impact on the game.
Over the last seven years, some of the AL winners include Shohei Ohtani, Aaron Judge, Carlos Correa, Jose Abreu, Wil Myers and Mike Trout. All those batters had at least 88 games played at the big-league level with Myers having the fewest. He batted .293/.354/.478 that season and he was one of baseball’s top prospects. He only had to beat out Jose Iglesias and Chris Archer for the top spot.
Does Arraez have a shot at the AL ROY? It seems more likely for Guerrero to finish on top but that still doesn’t take anything away from the impact Arraez has had on the Twins line-up.
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