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Will Luis Arraez Return to His 2019 Form?

Twins second baseman Luis Arraez has struggled as much as anyone over the past week. Do the numbers suggest he will pick it up soon? What if he can’t? How long is the leash? Come find out!
Image courtesy of © Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
This short season has not started in a promising way for Luis Arraez. Through 40 plate appearances, Luis is hitting .212/.289/.212 (.501) with a wRC+ of just 49. This is largely due to him having just one hit in his last 22 plate appearances before the Twins traveled to Pittsburgh. He seems to be hitting a “sophomore slump,” but hopefully he can break out of it. Let's take a look at what has changed for him.

He is hitting the ball just a few ticks softer than last season but he was able to hit nearly .340 last year, so why hasn't that carried over? Here are some of the statistics from this season to last.
  • Exit velocity: 2019 (87.1), 2020 (87.7)
  • Hard hit%: 2019 (22.8), 2020 (21.4)
  • xBA: 2019 (.295), 2020 (.271)
  • Launch angle: 2019 (11.5), 2020 (14.5)
The key statistic here is the launch angle. When hitters had a launch angle from 11.0 to 11.9 with an exit velocity from 87.0 to 87.9 they had a .690 batting average in 2019. Then when you switch the launch angle to 14 the batting average jumps to .844 so Arraez should still be doing fine. Unfortunately, nothing is dropping in the outfield.

Here is a visual representation of how he has hit the ball harder in 2019 just to see worse results. He is somehow hitting it too hard. Last season he was able to find the perfect gap between infielders and outfielders.

Attached Image: 2019 luis.png
Attached Image: Annotation 2020-08-05 073914.png

How long will the Twins continue to put Arraez out there if he isn’t performing? Arraez could definitely be given a series off and Adrianza could fill in, but I don’t think we will be seeing that quite yet. I expect the Twins to continue to ride with Luis until he breaks out. In a short 60 game season I hope he is able to pick it up before it is too late. Luckily the Twins have performed just fine without him producing as they are off to a 9-2 start.

What are your thoughts on Luis Arraez? Did you expect him to struggle a bit this season after having an elite rookie season? I expected him to drop off a little bit but nothing like this. Before you hit me with “It’s only been ten games,” just remember that is nearly 20% of the season. There isn't really such thing as a small sample size in this strange season.


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8 Comments

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jorgenswest
Aug 05 2020 02:40 PM

I need to hit you with the 10 games because data in a sample too small should not be used to make decisions about the future. it doesn’t matter that the season is shorter. The length of the season doesn’t change the size needed for a reliable sample.

 

One piece does stand out to me is the xBA. His xBA IN 2019 was .292 and is .271 for 2020. Does that seem like a drastic change? Were his numbers last year skewed by a much higher than expected BABIP with this year the reverse is happening?

 

Will he return to form? I don’t think it is certain that he ever abandoned his form. He puts a lot of balls in play and his results are always going to be BABIP driven and subject to significant variance due to sample.

 

 

The sss numbers would really be horrible if you took out the first two games! Fans were drooling over the future .400 hitter after 5 games and a .389 BA, and crying after going hitless for the next 6 games, and o for August. Such is the beginning of a season blues. For all. I don't think he will hit anywhere close to .400, (maybe above .300)but should develop some power ala Puckett. Not many stolen bases in his future. I would hope the Twins would try to culture a better second base option. We really missed a great value in DJ LeMahieu, and went on the cheap with Schoop, instead, that lead us here. I hope it works out. 

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LA VIkes Fan
Aug 05 2020 04:23 PM

I think he's getting "Mauered" in the sense that LFs are playing for his looping line drives to left. He's also getting pitched inside a little more because he hasn't shown an ability to turn on the ball and pull it hard to right. The league has adjusted; now he needs to adjust. 

 

Overall though, I think he'll figure this out and get through it fine. i don't think he's the second coming of Rod Carew but could see his elite bat to ball and walk skills making him a good hitting middle infielder at a .285/.350/.375 kind of slash line. Good starter, definitely worth having, but not an elite bat.  

    • JoshDungan1 likes this
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VivaBomboRivera!
Aug 05 2020 08:42 PM

The Twins are riding with Arraez as a starter this year.That will not change unless he completely implodes or gets hurt.Either way, there are plenty of players who can fill in.

 

Please try doing three things differently:

  • Less hand-wringing when only 12 games have been played (yes, even though 20% of the schedule is now over)
  • Look at how he is being pitched to and defended in new ways
  • Expect that everything will _not_ pick up exactly where it left off last season
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TwinsFan268
Aug 06 2020 06:49 AM

Anyone think that pitchers and infielders are starting to figure him out? I know he can hit to all sides of the field but I've noticed they've been covering that gap more this year.

Pitching and defense adjust....Batter adjusts. He'll be fine

I'd love to isolate and look at his launch angle during his recent slump, however many games it has been. I think he's getting some bad BABIP luck... but I think for him the issue is launch angle. I have noticed him hitting the ball hard, but with a lot more air under it meaning balls are hanging higher in the air and easier to track down. 

 

I am worried that Arraez may have tweaked his swing to try and get more loft on the ball and it is having a negative impact. More likely it's a small mechanical tweak that he needs to make to lower his launch angle and it was accidental. 

 

Ultimately, I think Arraez will be fine. He still takes really good ABs and has a great eye and contact skills. That should allow him to be a high obp/high avg guy. Now, how valuable is an average to below average fielder with average speed on the basepaths as a .285 - .295 avg -.350-360 OBP guy versus a .325-.335 avg - .390-.400 obp guy... that's always been the question with Arraez.

 

 

"Before you hit me with “It’s only been ten games,” just remember that is nearly 20% of the season. There isn't really such thing as a small sample size in this strange season."

 

That's not how statistics work.