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The Future Value of Luis Arraez

Major League Baseball has rookies every season that are deemed as the next wave of stars. However, this rarely comes to fruition as plenty of players can have success over a small sample size and then fade after repeat exposure at the big-league level. Luis Arraez might be the exception to the rule. He has hit at every level throughout his professional career and he looks like he might have more big-league value than originally thought.
Image courtesy of © Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Prospects break into the big leagues every season and there was no shortage of big names on this year’s list of breakthrough prospects. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Fernando Tatis Jr., Yordan Alvarez and Eloy Jimenez are just a few of the players from the current rookie class to find early success. Guerrero and Tatis were two of the top prospects in the game and they didn’t slow down after their call-ups.

MLB.com released their list of rookies with the most potential value moving forward. After the breakout season from Arraez, it seemed like a no-brainer to have him high on the list. According to FanGraphs, Arraez has been the been the ninth most valuable rookie in all of baseball. However, MLB.com doesn’t see his future value as being so high. As a 22-year old, he barely cracks the top-30.

There isn’t exactly a cornucopia of well-known players ahead of Arraez on MLB’s list. Other second baseman on the list near him include Tampa’s Brandon Lowe, Miami’s Isan Diaz and Pittsburgh’s Kevin Newman. All these players could have great careers ahead of them, but Arraez might have a little something more to add to the equation.

Few MLB players have been able to do what Arraez has done in his first 300 plate appearances. Only three players rank better than him in batting average among 22-year-olds in the past 100 years Among the other players on the list include Ted Williams, Stan Musial, and Joe DiMaggio. This isn’t exactly a random list of players that had good seasons as a young player. All three of these names are inner circle Hall-of-Fame members that are among some of the best all-time hitters.

Value can come on both sides of the ball for a player. In the case of Arraez, his defensive value seems limited, but he has shown the ability to play multiple positions. He seems destined to be Minnesota’s second baseman. That doesn’t mean he can't play left field, with over 130 innings out there and over 120 innings at third base. His bat will play no matter what position he is playing in the field.

Arraez may never reach the level of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. or Fernando Tatis Jr. This still doesn’t take anything away from what he has been able to do at the big-league level. There aren’t 28 rookies better than Arraez this season and he will prove his value in the years ahead.

How valuable do you think Arraez can be in the years to come? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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119 Comments

Arraez has been outstanding since being called up. It was obvious early on that he made our team better. His knowledge of the strike zone and his bat control seems kinda Rod Carew to me...Keep it up Luis!

    • birdwatcher, gagu, rdehring and 1 other like this
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BrianBuchanan
Sep 18 2019 07:25 AM

 

To be fair, it's really difficult to project aliens. I'm happy he is no longer a prospect and I don't have to try and figure this out anymore.

 

He's the most unique hitter in baseball. Not only does he lead the league in line drive % (min. 300 PAs), it's almost 11% above league average. That's fueling an insanely high BABIP, but at the same time he's also in the bottom 3% in hard hit %, bottom 8% in in barrel % and bottom 16% in exit velo.

 

 

 

Wow, I had no idea his advanced metrics were so extreme... It definitely meets the eye test though. Arraez is the king of soft liners to the gaps.

    • birdwatcher likes this
He has been amazing, but color me skeptical. If he can continue to hit .350, and draw some walks on top of that sure, he's really valuable.

But it's really hard to hit .350, and it's hard to continue to draw walks when you present no power threat.

He's also a weak armed, moderately slow infielder, so it's going to be hard to provide much value elsewhere.

Hope he can keep it up, but I'm going to need to see a couple years of this to fully buy in.

All that said, ride this wave right through the WS.
    • birdwatcher and rghrbek like this

I became a believer in Arraez when he came in to pinch hit for Schoop with an 0-2 count and worked a walk.

 

One of the most unbelievable At Bats I have ever seen.

    • denarded, goulik, gagu and 2 others like this

 

He has been amazing, but color me skeptical. If he can continue to hit .350, and draw some walks on top of that sure, he's really valuable.

But it's really hard to hit .350, and it's hard to continue to draw walks when you present no power threat.

He's also a weak armed, moderately slow infielder, so it's going to be hard to provide much value elsewhere.

Hope he can keep it up, but I'm going to need to see a couple years of this to fully buy in.

All that said, ride this wave right through the WS.

Arraez is only 22, so assuming he is able to add some muscle to his frame, he might be a guy who eventually can be a solid 3rd baseman. I don't think he will ever be quick enough or a good enough fielder to stay up the middle, but if he can add a little power to both his bat and his throws across the diamond, I think 3rd might be his best landing spot. He should look to model his game after Eduardo Escobar.

 

I think you nailed it with your assessment of Arraez. It is extremely challenging to maintain an OBP over .400 when you are not a threat to leave the ballpark.

    • Blake, Tom Froemming, bighat and 1 other like this

 


Twins have a pretty potent infield array of players. I could even see them move Cron and make Gonzo their 1Bman.

You want to make the Gonzo signing look terrible, stick him at first for 140 games. He is a great super utility player, but playing him at one position for a whole season unless forced to by injury is a huge mistake.

 

On Arraez, I love watching him play and probably even more importantly to me my son loves watching him. IMO the plan should be for him to be the starting 2B next year, but also to have some plan in place for a replacement in case he is hitting .250 and the walks go down, and I hope the plan isn't just Gordon because odds of hit stepping up right away are low.

    • SF Twins Fan and rdehring like this
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woolywoolhouse
Sep 18 2019 07:43 AM

I predict within five years little leaguers all around Minnesota will be shaking their heads at ball calls, walking a 360 around the batter's box and umpire when they take a strike they don't like, and requesting to wear #2 on their jerseys. 

    • birdwatcher, Danchat, dbminn and 5 others like this

I think we'll see more power from Arraez in future seasons. He has the build for it and a great ability to put the big part of the bat on the ball. I had my doubts at times during the season about his long term potential, but I think he'll be a key part of the Twins lineup for many years to come.

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In My La-Z-boy
Sep 18 2019 08:04 AM

 

He has been amazing, but color me skeptical. If he can continue to hit .350, and draw some walks on top of that sure, he's really valuable.

But it's really hard to hit .350, and it's hard to continue to draw walks when you present no power threat.

He's also a weak armed, moderately slow infielder, so it's going to be hard to provide much value elsewhere.

Hope he can keep it up, but I'm going to need to see a couple years of this to fully buy in.

All that said, ride this wave right through the WS.

You are probably remembering the fall of 2014 and Mr. Danny Santana. In my opinion, Arraez is no Danny Santana. But in Sept of '14 I thought Danny was the 2nd coming of Carew too. He came out of nowhere and lit it up for a couple of months.

The only reason Arraez would have more power is because has very little right now. He’s a good batter with a good eye. I’d bat him second, put him at 2B and let Schoop move on with much thanks for his help. Polanco is still a defensive liability and still has awful footwork. I think it’s gotten into his head. He catches and throws off balance...no wonder he has such bad fielding streaks. I’d move Sano to 1B and haveGonzalez play 3B mainly. If Castro is resigned, he should be garver’s backup. This team needs 3 decent starters during the off season. I’d like to see Pineda and Odorizzi back with hopefully a better starter on top of that. I think they will have to pick up the option on Perez. I don’t see a starter coming up through the minors for a whil
    • bighat likes this

I've been waiting 3 years to see if Arraez could continue at the Major League level and the definite answer is yes. Could he fall off, only if someone really messes with his hitting style. His walk rate will go up because anything thrown in the zone he hits.

 

I agree though he looks like he could use a couple years of following Berrios workouts in the offseason.

    • rdehring likes this
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MMMordabito
Sep 18 2019 08:26 AM

 

For questions like this, I turn to my handy copy of the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook for 2019 (available every spring).Here is where Arraez ranked:

 

Seth Stohs - 22

Cody Christie - 21

Tom Froemming - 25

Jeremy Nygaard - 14

 

Looks like Jeremy is the only one who let the bong pass at least every other time around:)

 

In all seriousness, Arraez is a player that appears to have one tool that is off-the-charts good (two if you count plate discipline/ zone control as a separate tool) and then four tools that are currently average at best and probably below average.Those tools can, of course, improve over time (maybe not raw speed) and should be given that opportunity based on the playability of the other-worldly tool(s). 

 

If you are rating prospects, it's pretty difficult to move a guy like that way up when he doesn't have prospect shine and as much data/film to work with.

 

I think Thrylos maybe had him ranked the highest, but he tends to be willing to gamble a bit more with ratings against the grain.He nailed this one, but he's missed a few of those too.

    • gagu and HrbekRules like this
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yarnivek1972
Sep 18 2019 08:38 AM
Edgar Martinez wasn’t a big power guy in the minors either. Moreso than Arraez, but not much compared with his peers in prospect land in the mid 80s. He certainly was never fast or particularly adept defensively either.

He did okay.
    • Dman and rdehring like this

Thanks Cody for recognizing a player I have thought has been under recognized for several years.

 

The more I watch Arraez play, the more I question the negative comments about his defense.He likely will never win a golden glove.But the player I see is solid at second base and surprisingly adequate at third.After a couple blunders in left field when he began playing out there, he seems to be adequate there as well.Perhaps his biggest negative is that he isn't fast and his range, especially at second, is somewhat limited.  

 

I don't get hung up over his power, or lack thereof.Someone who has the ability to get on base about 40% of the time while hitting for an average well over .300 has a ton of value, at least on my team.For me, he would be right next to Garver as being untouchable (among the most recent position players to join the team) when the Twins enter trade discussions this coming winter.

 

As for the future, although I am certain he will have a year or two during his career that don't meet his norm, I expect him to continue playing as is for the next decade plus.Considering he is only 22, there is a likelihood that he should even get a bit better at his trade...both with the bat and defensively.

    • brvama likes this
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stringer bell
Sep 18 2019 08:44 AM

Arraez complements this team quite well. There is ample power, but putting guys on base before the extra base hits has to be a high priority. He has great strike-zone disciple combined with great contact skills. Arraez should continue to get on base a lot.

 

For him to be a repeating All-Star, he would have to develop some power or continue to be a top 10 percentage hitter. Luis doesn't have great speed, which would be a helpful trait on this version of the Twins. I've seen his defense as acceptable and would add that he seems to make the proper plays and limits mental mistakes. 

    • brvama, Kelly Vance, Dman and 2 others like this

 

To be fair, it's really difficult to project aliens. I'm happy he is no longer a prospect and I don't have to try and figure this out anymore.

 

He's the most unique hitter in baseball. Not only does he lead the league in line drive % (min. 300 PAs), it's almost 11% above league average. That's fueling an insanely high BABIP, but at the same time he's also in the bottom 3% in hard hit %, bottom 8% in in barrel % and bottom 16% in exit velo. He also grades out as one of the worst defensive second basemen in baseball and is only an average runner at 22.

 

I can see why the projections would still be lukewarm on him.

 

If nothing changes and he maintains that ability to hit line drives, however, he's still going to continue to be amazing. If pitchers can find a way to attack him, he's a slower version of Ben Revere who doesn't provide defensive value. If he can take his incredible foundational skills (plate discipline, hand-eye coordination) and prioritize power, he could have a Jose Altuve-like unforeseen power breakout.

 

He's an alien. Nothing is off the table in my mind. He could be an afterthought two years from now, they could be retiring his number 20 years from now or anything in between. I'm just going to enjoy the ride and appreciate this. It's a privilege to be able to watch an incredibly unique hitter who so clearly has worked hard at honing his craft.

 

I think this is right. The general lack of power previously is going to engender some skeptics, the high BABIP as well. heck the OBP could be a fluke year shot and he'll never be over .400 again. It's fair (especially for those who aren't seeing him every day) to be a little skeptical about how well he'll project. There's just so many outliers all over the place.

 

That said, there's so many things to like about his approach at the plate that there's reason to believe it could be mostly repeatable. The plate discipline & hand-eye coordination are exceptional. He may be one of those guys that just doesn't have any holes in his swing and keeps shooting balls to the OF...and considering today's pitching approach, he may get those opportunities. Because he's not a HR hitter, pitchers will challenge him.

 

He's almost certainly not going to hit .350 next year. Doesn't mean he can't hit .320 with an OBP .380-.400 and be a real force at the top of the lineup.

 

Power is important, but simply getting hits is becoming an underrated and undervalued skill in baseball and Arraez has it.

    • beckmt, justinone, Dman and 2 others like this
I don't care if the power never develops and he hits .320+ every year. Just get on base and let the big bats bring you home!
    • gagu likes this

Here's got a little pop in his bat, too.

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jorgenswest
Sep 18 2019 09:15 AM

Is there really enough defensive data to fairly label him as anything defensively?
This narrative is being repeated over and over again and it really doesn’t match the eye test.


My eye sees well below average lateral range that can not be compensated for by playing deeper without a strong arm.

The DRS and UZR are real and more reliable than a batting average for future projection at this point. Neither is near enough sample. I think we can be confident in the on base skills that have been consistent throughout his professional career. I think we have also seen the quality of his approach at the plate. It shouldn’t be ignored that there also have been questions about his arm and range over his professional career.

His bat will play. Like Sano at 3B he is OK at 2B for now but may need to move down on the defensive spectrum as his career progresses.

I will leave with a thought for another article. Is the defensive spectrum changing due to the increase in fly balls and the data used to shift infielders. Will corner Of spots be more important defensively than 3B and 2B with this evolution? Maybe 2B is the perfect spot for Arraez.
    • gagu likes this

I am so impressed with Luis Arraez. How anyone could watch what Arraez has done and not be completely impressed is beyond me. His plate discipline has rivaled Mauer's at his peak. I don't think he should be pushed to add power--this guy is Tony Gwynn not Brian Dozier. If healthy he should be batting first for the Twins for a long time. I think batting titles and maybe even .400 should be his goal--not trying to change who he is to hit a couple extra home runs. Maybe I'm crazy but I think we could be looking a guy who has a chance to be an all time great hitter of the baseball.

    • birdwatcher, Kelly Vance and Bomba2026 like this
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SpicyGarvSauce
Sep 18 2019 09:30 AM

Like Chief said, ride the wave.

 

Perhaps a move to the OF would make sense if the Twins opt to keep him and they don't view him as an adequate enough 2B?

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OldTimeTwinkie
Sep 18 2019 09:35 AM
I said it at the trade deadline to trade Lewis for a number one because of emergence of Araez. The naysayers will poo poo this because they love potential over production. Sundagaard would look good right now.
    • Tomj14 likes this
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Cap'n Piranha
Sep 18 2019 09:43 AM

Max Kepler, as a 22 year old, hit 9 homers in 500+ PA's at A+ and AA (almost entirely AA)

 

Nelson Cruz, as a 22 year old, hit 4 homers 220+ AB's at Short A

 

Power can develop as players get older--I'm not saying it will for Arraez, and even if it does, it's a gigantic long shot that it would become 30 homer power, but I don't think we should assume Arraez is a slower Ben Revere; after all, Revere, had 15 XBH across 390 AB's (mostly AA, cup of coffee in MLB) at age 22.Arraez has 34 across 503 AB's (SLG of .350 for Revere, .433 for Arraez).

 

Perhaps a better way to look at it would be this--below are three age 22 seasons;

 

Player A--.290/.340/.399/.739 in 630 PA's, 34 2B, 4 3B, 7 HR, 7.1% XBH Rate, 40 BB, 74 K, .54 BB/K

Player B--.302/.393/.392/.785 in 476 PA's, 23 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 5.9% XBH Rate, 65 BB, 42 K, 1.55 BB/K

Player C--.350/.416/.433/.849 in 566 PA's, 29 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 6.0% XBH Rate, 59 BB, 43 K, 1.37 BB/K

 

Player C is Luis Arraez (with 58% of his PA's in MLB), Player A is Jose Altuve (100% at MLB), Player B is Joe Mauer (100% at Low A).Given that Arraez appears to have plate discipline at least as good as Mauer, if not better, and far better than Altuve, I see no reason to think his ability to put the ball in play will suffer.As he continues to develop power, I suspect he'll settle into a yearly average of 35-40 doubles, and 10-15 homers; more than enough to keep pitchers honest.

 

In short, I would absolutely offer Arraez a 7 year, $35M contract this offseason, and be willing to go up to 7 and 50 if that's what it takes (although in that scenario I'd tack on a team option for $10M for year 8).

    • birdwatcher, justinone, gagu and 2 others like this
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nicksaviking
Sep 18 2019 09:49 AM

 

Max Kepler, as a 22 year old, hit 9 homers in 500+ PA's at A+ and AA (almost entirely AA)

 

Nelson Cruz, as a 22 year old, hit 4 homers 220+ AB's at Short A

 

Power can develop as players get older

 

While he might develop more pop, I don't think his swing is geared for that, so unless he revamps his approach at the plate, I think any increase in HR would be minimal to moderate. Rod Carew probably would have hit more HR had he changed approaches but then may not have won those batting titles.

 

What's strange to me is that he's already renowned for his plate discipline but I can't think of a Twin who has had more balls called strikes by the umpires this season than Arraez. It almost seems like the umpires are instinctively putting the rookie in his place.

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SpicyGarvSauce
Sep 18 2019 09:50 AM

 

 


 

In short, I would absolutely offer Arraez a 7 year, $35M contract this offseason, and be willing to go up to 7 and 50 if that's what it takes (although in that scenario I'd tack on a team option for $10M for year 8).

 

Why?

    • rghrbek likes this

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