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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

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Cap'n Piranha
Sep 18 2019 09:53 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.

 

The guy who since the All Star break has a 4.30 ERA and is striking out less than 9/9, all with an unsustainably low .268 BABIP (his year-long mark is .303)?The guy who in his last 4 starts (against playoff-caliber teams) has a 7.65 ERA on a high (but not crazy high) .333 BABIP?

 

I'd be fine with Syndergaard, but Twins Territory needs to collectively stop thinking he's Verlander or Cole.

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Cap'n Piranha
Sep 18 2019 09:54 AM

 

Why?

 

So he'll be on the team for the next 7-8 years at a team friendly price...

He's not going to develop significant power with the approach/swing he deploys. But, I'm not sure he'll have to to be valuable. I think a consistently high BABiP is viable...he hits the ball from line to line, uses the whole field. And it doesn't need to be 'insanely' high (currently .380). Even if the BABiP dips to a more 'realistic' .350, with his ability to put the ball in play, and accept the BB, the OBP is still around .370-380, and the OPS is still around .840 to .850.

 

That's fine with even 'decent', but below-average defense at 2nd. To me it comes down to what type of batting order you can put around him. He's perfect for the 2019 Twins who have all the power they need and are short on OBP and putting the ball in play. I think it's realistic to think he can be an every-day second baseman with some improvement defensively...or a super-utility that plays, basically, every day. But I agree with those that say the BABiP has to stay high-ish for the value to be good, as I don't see significant/consistent power developing in that swing.

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stringer bell
Sep 18 2019 09:57 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).

Joe Mauer was in the majors at 21 and as a 22-year old hit .294 for the Twins.

 

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).

Tagging on to this, Kirby Pucket had little power in his early 20's.He was a pure slap hitter.

 

At 22: 3 HRs in Rookie ball

At 23: 9 HRs in single A

At 24: 0 HRs in Minnesota, and 1 at AAA

At 25: 4 HRs in Minnesota

 

And then he got his man muscles, changed his swing a bit, and the rest is history.

 

Arraez probably never hits 20 HRs, but he will get stronger as he gets older.

 

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Cap'n Piranha
Sep 18 2019 10:00 AM

 

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.

 

Yeah, I'm not looking for him to change his swing--I think Mauer is a good comp for him here.Arraez has great zone control, uses all the fields, and isn't trying to hit homers.Mauer averaged a double every 18.6 PA's, and a homer every 55.7 PA's;if Arraez matches those rates (he's not far off on doubles, but quite a ways on homers), assuming 600 PA's a year, that's 32 doubles and 11ish homers a year.Seems reasonable.

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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.

 

This.  

Just think there is a lot of hype and good feelings toward a feel good story.  Everyone get's to love the guy, or not, it's everyone's choice on this site.

 

However, like Tom, I like to sprinkle a little bit of let's give this guy a year or two before we put terribly unreasonable expectations on him.

 

He's been great this year and a breath of fresh air.  However, I do not think he's going to be a star.  I hope he is, but I think he is more likely not going to be, due to the many things Tom listed above.

 

We have suggestions stating we should have traded Lewis for a true #1 because we have Luis (lot's of problems with that statement).  Sign him to a 7 year deal, to playing him at 3rd base permanently.  Just way too early for us to be making these kinds of assumptions.

 

My vote, is he really doesn't have a ton of value, until he can do this over an entire year.  He certainly gives the team hope though.

 

 

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SpicyGarvSauce
Sep 18 2019 10:17 AM

 

So he'll be on the team for the next 7-8 years at a team friendly price...

 

Right - but you don't offer that kind of contract to a guy with under 300 career ABs at the ML level.

 

Let's let this thing ride out a little more before we start shelling out more money than is even necessary at this point. 

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longstrangetrip
Sep 18 2019 10:27 AM

I have only one issue with Arraez...I'm tired of hearing almost all the Twins announcers trip over themselves trying to out-Hispanic each other pronouncing his name!.Call me a curmudgeon if you must, but I'm calling him "arise"...with no rolled R.  

 

Other than that, I love this kid.Great in the dugout, acts like he belongs rather than a rookie (i.e. confident), terrific pitch recognition, lightening quick wrists, and adequate speed and defense...and he's only 22.He hit a consistent .331 in 6 seasons in the minors, and was only a teenager hitting against grown men in half those seasons.How about hitting .348 with less than a 10% K rate as a 17-year-old?  

 

Luis should be our leadoff guy throughout the playoffs and for the next 10 years at least.  

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I'll take him.In this era the HR stroke is over rated and the batting eye is under rated.He is a disciplined hitter who provides a constant on base presence.In addition, in this era of shifts, who know what a 2B should look like?I will be rooting for Luis for a long time - hopefully as a Twin.

    • justinone, gagu and In My La-Z-boy like this

My advice for any and all people, is JUST ENJOY IT!!!What we're seeing with Arraez is simply amazing.Don't let stats that support his faults cause you to think he's insufficient at 2B.He's fearless.There's no stat for that.He's unorthodox.No stat for that.He's who I want to see up when we have runners on second and third.No stat for that.He's who I want up to start an inning when we need a runner on in the 9th.No stat for that.Has he failed?Yes, but far less than many.He gets the job and excels at it.Throw your numbers that oppose him out the window, and just let this kid play.

    • birdwatcher, Riverbrian, Kelly Vance and 7 others like this
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yarnivek1972
Sep 18 2019 10:45 AM

So he'll be on the team for the next 7-8 years at a team friendly price...


He’s already guaranteed to be on the team the next 6 years (through 2025) and likely for well under $20 mil.
    • Danchat, rghrbek, gagu and 1 other like this
I'd lock this kid up with a long contract now. He reminds me of Rod Carew who I was fortunate enough to watch play his entire career. No one ever expected him to hit a homerun but they knew there was a pretty good chance he would get on base when he came up to bat. With Oliva and Killebrew beind him, that setup did pretty well. He will improve in every area as he plays, but sometimes you are just born with that baseball gene. I like his attitude and being around guys like Cruz will only make him better.
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...but sometimes you are just born with that baseball gene.

 

This sums it up.I've thought this in the depths of my feeble baseball mind for the past 4 years, but he's about as "can't miss" as they come.

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yarnivek1972
Sep 18 2019 11:19 AM
I’m not sure what his ceiling is, but his floor is incredibly high IMO. In an era where most hitters swing and miss a lot, a guy that does not is not going to struggle finding a job if they competently play a position.
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Cap'n Piranha
Sep 18 2019 11:21 AM

 

Joe Mauer was in the majors at 21 and as a 22-year old hit .294 for the Twins.

 

Yeah, my bad, I did my math wrong and pulled his 2002 numbers (I had just looked at Cruz, so I had 1980 in my head).Here are the actual numbers, 100% in MLB

 

.294/.372/.411/.783 in 554 PA's, 26 2B, 2 3B, 9 HR, 6.5% XBH Rate, 73 BB, 64 K, 1.14 BB/K

 

Arraez maintains his advantage in OBP, and actually has a better bb/k ratio than Joe did, but falls behind Joe in the XBH rate, but remains ahead in slugging due to his better batting average.I still think the point remains, Arraez' numbers as a 22 year old can hold their own against Altuve and Mauer at the same age.

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Cap'n Piranha
Sep 18 2019 11:30 AM

 

Right - but you don't offer that kind of contract to a guy with under 300 career ABs at the ML level.

 

Let's let this thing ride out a little more before we start shelling out more money than is even necessary at this point. 

 

Plate discipline and control of the strike zone are skills unlikely to erode--neither is his elite contact ability (at least not until he approaches, if not hits, his 30's).Luis is, among players with 300+ PA's this year, 1st in out-of-zone contact, 5th in in-zone contact, 1st in overall contact, and 2nd in swing strike rate, all while making only 11.3% soft contact (16th).Arraez is about as good a candidate there is to maintain the tools that are his skills, ability to get hits and have a high OBP.

 

The reason you give Arraez a contract now is because that's how you get it really cheap.For example, back in April, the Braves gave Acuna an 8 (or 10) year contract for $100M (or $134M) after only 487 PA's in the Bigs.How much more do you think the Braves would have to pay if they tried to do an extension after Acuna put up a 5 WAR season in his age 21 season?I'm not saying Arraez is the player Acuna is--I'm saying the philosophy of doing deals early is how you get deals that look like steals.After all, if you pro-rate Arraez' WAR to a 150 game season, he's a 4 WAR player.

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LA VIkes Fan
Sep 18 2019 11:36 AM

Fro all the reasons Tom mentioned, Arraez probably isn't going to hit .350 long term or even .320. He's probably not going to hit 20 homers a year and maybe not even 10. He's not going to win a Gold Glove at 2B and may not even get to Schoop's level as a fielder because he doesn't have that cannon Schoop has to bail him out of situations. 

 

I think he can be, maybe even is likely to be, a guy who hits .280-.310, with a .350-.380 OBP and and .790-.850 OPS, who plays a decent but not great 2B and can hold his own well enough at 3B and in the corner OF spots to be worth playing there when there's a need. THAT, my friends, is one valuable guy. Give me 2 or 3 of those guys, 3 guys with power, a slick fielding or great hitting SS and CF, and you have a very effective lineup.  

 

Arraez can and should be a foundational every day player for the Twins for the next 7-8 years. Great find for this year. By the way, Zack Littel is also a great find as a RP. 

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nicksaviking
Sep 18 2019 11:43 AM

Unless they're MVP candidates, extending young players is still cheap until at least year three, and if Arraez isn't playing a premium position and doesn't possess at least league average power, his arbitration figures probably aren't even going to be very high. Giving him $25M now to buy out two free agent years instead of $35M in 2021 doesn't seem like a great bargain when you factor in the risks of regression, or the possibility of significant injury.

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SpicyGarvSauce
Sep 18 2019 11:51 AM

 

Plate discipline and control of the strike zone are skills unlikely to erode--neither is his elite contact ability (at least not until he approaches, if not hits, his 30's).Luis is, among players with 300+ PA's this year, 1st in out-of-zone contact, 5th in in-zone contact, 1st in overall contact, and 2nd in swing strike rate, all while making only 11.3% soft contact (16th).Arraez is about as good a candidate there is to maintain the tools that are his skills, ability to get hits and have a high OBP.

 

The reason you give Arraez a contract now is because that's how you get it really cheap.For example, back in April, the Braves gave Acuna an 8 (or 10) year contract for $100M (or $134M) after only 487 PA's in the Bigs.How much more do you think the Braves would have to pay if they tried to do an extension after Acuna put up a 5 WAR season in his age 21 season?I'm not saying Arraez is the player Acuna is--I'm saying the philosophy of doing deals early is how you get deals that look like steals.After all, if you pro-rate Arraez' WAR to a 150 game season, he's a 4 WAR player.

 

Yarnivek did the work for me - the Twins don't need to do that deal, right now, given how cheap he will be for the foreseeable future. They can revisit it down the road in a couple of years if he sustains the success, but at this point, you do not give a guy $5 million AAV that has less than 300 career ABs. Just foolish.

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Brock Beauchamp
Sep 18 2019 11:52 AM

Arraez seems to be one of those players where the eye test tricks you into believing he's a good defender because his situational awareness is good and he rarely does dumb things while occasionally doing really smart things.

 

I think that situational awareness masks that he has below average range and a meh arm. But hey, having good situational awareness and mediocre athleticism is better than having bad situational awareness and mediocre athleticism.

 

But it also leads me to believe it'll be hard for him to improve much defensively because his problem seems to be physicality, not baseball instincts.

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ScrapTheNickname
Sep 18 2019 11:59 AM

I'm very surprised to learn that the mlb writer holds Arraez in such low esteem. I think he's much better than ranking 29th rookie with the best future. I guess singles hitting, high OBP players are just out of fashion.

 

On the other hand, I do secretly worry about his legs (knee?). He's simply not fast, and maybe his legs aren't up to par. Or maybe he's just quirky and it doesn't mean anything.

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TheRealCupOfJoe
Sep 18 2019 12:16 PM

His plate discipline is astounding. I love to watch this kid. His stature is very Puckett-like. Don't discount power potential. Kirby hit 4 HR at age 25 in 691 AB's. The following year, he hit 31 dingers. His defense hasn't been terrible - I'd take it over Polanco's any day. It'll improve with time.

 

 

Yeah, my bad, I did my math wrong and pulled his 2002 numbers (I had just looked at Cruz, so I had 1980 in my head).Here are the actual numbers, 100% in MLB

 

.294/.372/.411/.783 in 554 PA's, 26 2B, 2 3B, 9 HR, 6.5% XBH Rate, 73 BB, 64 K, 1.14 BB/K

 

Arraez maintains his advantage in OBP, and actually has a better bb/k ratio than Joe did, but falls behind Joe in the XBH rate, but remains ahead in slugging due to his better batting average.I still think the point remains, Arraez' numbers as a 22 year old can hold their own against Altuve and Mauer at the same age.

lets not get too far ahead of ourselves, Mauer was 23 (kind of cool their birthdays are 10 days apart) when he was an all star, won a batting title and was 6th in the MVP voting and Altuve was an all start at age 22. (both were better base runners and had a bit more power)

With that being said I think he has a chance for a batting title or two and maybe a couple of all star games, I don't think his future is yearly all star games because he doesn't hit the homers everybody loves, but a really high batting average could sneak him into a couple.

If he doesn't keep a high batting average and on base percentage he could become a liability, but it looks like the Twins have a low cost starter for a few years to come.

Just went over the list again, they have him as the 5th or 6th or 7th(if you include Senzel and Chavis) at 2B in the list with 3 of them being in the American league. It might be much harder than I initially thought of him making the all star team with Altuve and Torres as well.

    • birdwatcher and gagu like this

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