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Why Luis Arraez Should be the Twins Starting 2B in 2020

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#1 Danchat

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Posted 24 June 2019 - 09:54 PM

It may be premature to be looking forward to the 2020 season, and while there will be several signings, trades, and transactions to consider, there is one thing I would like to write down at least in pencil - I want Luis Arraez to be the Twins' Opening Day second baseman in 2020. Let's get to some bullet-points that will explain why!

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* Note - I got the idea of writing this article around the second week of June, before Arraez was called up again. I just wanted to point out that this wasn't written just because of Luis' current hot streak. I've been sitting on this one for a little while now.*

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omNdlXO.jpg

(Arraez at Spring Training 2019, image from Twins Daily)

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*-- Luis can flat-out hit

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Arraez has a career .331 batting average in the minors, and that's not a number raised by a career year. The lowest that number ever got over a 100 PA sample size is .298. Luis never ran into a roadblock in the minors, besides an injury. It seems like most Twins prospects runinto development potholes and obstacles in their journey to the majors, but outside of missing most of the 2017 season with a torn ACL, his performance has always been top-notch. He's also been promoted very aggressively the past two seasons, and has responded well. Arraez is likely going to have to take some lumps in the majors, but I'm willing to bet he'll be able to fare better than most rookie hitters. Arraez has already shined in the big leagues in a very small sample thus far, and one plus is that he's not going to strike out much. In his minor league career, he struck out only 129 times - only 8.1% of the time. He's going to be making frequent contact.

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One concern you may have with Arraez's bat is that he doesn't have much power. Only 20.5% of his hits are extra base hits, with just 7 career home runs. That doesn't stack up well to Schoop's career 38.3%, but I don't think it's out of the question Arraez could develop some power as he ages and builds more muscle; he is only 22 years old at this point. Besides, I don't think the Twins need to have power out of every spot in the lineup, not when you can sub a power hitter like Schoop out for a guy who is going to get on base and make contact like Luis. Speaking of that...

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*-- On-Base Ability

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There was an article on Twins Daily during this past Spring Training that asked how the Twins were going to get on base with so many power hitters. Locking Schoop into the 2B job practically guaranteed a drop in on-base ability as compared to having Dozier there (Schoop's career OBP is .295 as compared to Dozier's .324). The Twins have plenty of power hitters, but they could use more players to knock in. Arraez would be a great option to have to get on base near the bottom of the lineup. Luis has a decent amount of speed, so perhaps putting him in front of Buxton in the lineup would allow for Arraez to score on some of Buxton's many doubles (that is, if they're going to keep Byron at the bottom of the lineup in 2020).

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Getting on base has not been a problem for Arraez. Luis' OBP has not dropped under .340 at any level in the minors. While his walk rate is below-average - he's walked 7.7% of the time at all levels combined in his career - he simply hasn't needed to. Arraez has also already drawn 32 walks between all 3 levels he's played at this year, so he's on pace to break his total walks number. More experience will likely lead to more walks for him.

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*-- There are Plenty of Fall-Back Options

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If the Twins do let Schoop go and give Arraez the job, there are plenty of fall-back options. First off, Marwin Gonzalez will be under contract and he's played plenty of 2B in his career and has been a very good fielder there. And if the Twins would rather keep him in the super-utility role, well, they have another top 10 prospect in Nick Gordon who could fill the spot. Gordon is currently hitting .286/.327/.443 (.770 OPS) at AAA and is already on the 40 man roster, so I don't think it would be a stretch to have him getting an extended chance in the majors in 2020. Gordon's power never developed and he's considered to be a below-average fielder, so he's just below Arraez in my prospects ranking. But it's certainly possible Gordon could pass Luis up, and he'd make for a great fall-back option. (Arraez will also have 2 option years remaining in 2020, so sending him to AAA will always be an option.)

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And also - I don't think the Twins need to put free agency money into filling 2B. We have several options, and meanwhile, our pitching staff in 2020 looks very thin on paper. Most of our money should be going towards pitchers in free agency.

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*-- Jonathan Schoop is replaceable

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To have a better understanding of the situation in a year from now, here is the current status of our hitters in 2019:

Under Contract:
C Garver
C Astudillo
1B Cron (Arb 3)
SS Polanco - $3.83M
3B Sano (Arb 2)
UTL Gonzalez - $9M
UTL Adrianza (Arb 4)
RF Kepler - $6.25M
CF Buxton (Arb 2)
LF Rosario (Arb 2)

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Not Under Contract:
C Castro
2B Schoop

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Most of our positions already seem to be locked up, but 2B appears to be the primary opening. Note: Many have speculated about Polanco moving to 2B, but that doesn't seem to be in the cards. He's been decent enough defensively to stay there, at least in my opinion.

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But should the Twins try to re-sign Schoop? It's not as if he's been a liability out there. He's turned out to be what many expected - not as good as his 2017 All-Star form, but miles ahead of his 2018 self. He's got a respectable .259/.308/.469 (.777 OPS) slash at the time of this writing. To evaluate his current body of work as a fielder, I'll turn to the fangraphs fielding metrics to answer that question:

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Schoop defensively:
Range factor: 11th / 36 (of 2B who have played at least 200 innings there in 2019)
Errors: 30th / 36th
UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating): 26th / 36
RZR (Revised Zone Rating): .657 (33rd / 36)

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Schoop has been a disappointment lately, as compared to his track record in Baltimore as being an above average 2B. It would be hard to imagine that Arraez would be a 'big' downgrade, only potentially a minor one.

That aside, I think Schoop could earn a moderately-sized deal in free agency if he finishes the 2018 season without any major slumps or hot streaks, perhaps something around 3 years, $36M total (there aren't many contracts given to 2B that I can base it from).

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While the Twins could absolutely afford that amount of cash for Schoop, as I've already mentioned, the Twins need to keep their books open to sign some pitchers. Odorizzi, Gibson, and Pineda will all hit free agency and Martin Perez likely will too, unless the Twins want to pay him $7.5M in 2020. Figuring out what to do there sounds like another article for another time!

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*-- Potential Concerns

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Outside of a couple concerns I've already measured, there are two more points I'd like to bring up that could be considered concerns for Arraez. First is his fielding. I don't have any advanced minor league fielding numbers, but from what I've read on Twins Daily, it would seem that Luis is a 2B-only player and he's a liability at all other positions. I can tell you that he's made just 19 errors in his minor league career, which composes of 2,060 innings, which is a very low number, but that doesn't tell me much. MLB.com gave him a ranking of Arm: 50 and Field: 45 (which are scored between 20 and 80). Methinks he should turn out as an average defensive 2B.
(source: http://m.mlb.com/pro...s/2018?list=min)

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My other concern is a simple lack of experience and volume of play in the minors. After playing partial seasons at age 17 and 18, his plate appearances since 2016 look like this:

2016: 514 PAs
2017: 13 PAs (torn ACL)
2018: 453 PAs
2019: 285 PAs

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That's not a huge body of work, and I wonder if Arraez could struggle a little with a bigger workload as an everyday 2B. But with Marwin to rotate in and out and Nick Gordon potentially coming through, it's not like Arraez will need to soak up 600+ PAs in 2020.

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*-- Conclusion
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I didn't know much about Luis before this season, but since Spring Training I've dove into his scouting profile and I like what I see. He looks ready to face major league pitching at age 22 with only 2 full seasons of play in the minors under his belt. I'm not expecting the kid to hit .300 with 100+ runs in 2020, but I think the Twins would be wise to groom him as the future 2B and they will be rewarded with a very good ballplayer.

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Thoughts?

Edited by Danchat, 24 June 2019 - 09:59 PM.

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#2 yarnivek1972

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Posted 25 June 2019 - 05:25 AM

As was mentioned, the Twins will need to pay for some pitching in 2020 because their attempts at developing it have largely failed. Gibson is the most recent player to come up through the system to stick as a starter for more than one full season at the MLB level and he was drafted more than a decade ago.

So, there is going to have to be some give and take. An offense that is on a record setting pace seems like a logical place to downgrade to shore up the pitching staff.
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#3 stringer bell

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Posted 25 June 2019 - 06:40 AM

I don't doubt that Schoop will only play one year for the Twins. Arraez has put himself ahead of Nick Gordon IMHO and Royce Lewis hasn't gotten out of A ball yet. 

 

It has been a small sample size, but Arraez has been impressive.

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#4 Dman

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Posted 25 June 2019 - 07:23 AM

I have always been a big fan of Arraez but never saw him getting a chance this early.I have him andGordon neck and neck. They are both light hitters and Gordon has the better defensive profile as he can adequately play Short and 3rd but Arraez can make better contact and make pitchers work.Arraez's bat may be close to elite status when it is all said and done and it will need to be for him to keep his spot.The lack of power is the only thing holding him back IMO.I question whether it will ever develop.The way he typically swings doesn't really allow for home runs. He is a slap hitter and I don't know what his hard hit rate is but I would guess it is below average.He lacks defensive flexibility IMO but could maybe offset that by being an onbase machine.  

 

I like him as he is a pesky batter but the lack of power and only average defense will always leave you thinking you might be able to get more from that position.


#5 goulik

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Posted 25 June 2019 - 07:27 AM

One other potential problem, he might be MLB ready trade bait for the playoff pitching we want. His name has been brought up by at least 1 SF media member...

#6 puckstopper1

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Posted 25 June 2019 - 08:07 AM

 

As was mentioned, the Twins will need to pay for some pitching in 2020 because their attempts at developing it have largely failed. Gibson is the most recent player to come up through the system to stick as a starter for more than one full season at the MLB level and he was drafted more than a decade ago.
 

 

Yarn - I believe Berrios would also need to be added to Gibson in this quote...

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#7 ashbury

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Posted 25 June 2019 - 08:07 AM

If I'm GM, I don't want to mess with success in 2019. But Arraez has stepped forward and is in my plans for next year. So I'm in general agreement with the OP. Arraez has become the kind of player I keep, unless someone absolutely knocks me over with a trade offer. I trade prospects who haven't stepped forward, such as Gordon, and let the other team shoulder the risk, and if that means less in return, so be it.

 

Schoop's been good this year, until the month of June, but that's too short a time to be making moves over - he'll probably bounce back and his defense has been good. If for some reason Schoop was integral to trading for a good starting pitcher, I'd consider it since I do have his replacement in mind, but it's doubtful a trade would work out that way.

 

So in November I'd thank Schoop profusely for his contributions, make sure he knows he's invited to the WS Ring Ceremony next spring, and offer to give a glowing reference to his next employer. :)

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#8 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 25 June 2019 - 09:17 AM

Assuming no trades or injuries change the landscape, I'm moderately comfortable using Arraez to start the 2020 season with a back-up of Gonzalez and/or Gordon if things go south.

 

Mid-market teams need to roll the dice like this on occasion so you can spend money filling positions of larger need.

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#9 nicksaviking

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Posted 25 June 2019 - 09:27 AM

I'm an Arraez fan.

 

I'd also guess so are the GMs of the teams the Twins will be talking to when looking for bullpen help. I'm not sure if the Twins would move him, but controllable young middle infielders who through no fault of their own struggle to stay on the 25-man will probably get their name dropped quite a bit.

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#10 LA VIkes Fan

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Posted 25 June 2019 - 09:36 AM

I saw that Arraez played SS for a couple of days and I want to say he played 3B for at least a game as well. I know that's a small sample size but any feedback on how he looked and played in the field? It would really help if he and Gonzalez could both be super utility types next year essentially rotating through the 2B and 3B positions with Sano getting 100-120 games at 3B, particularly since the rosters go to 26 players and I think only 13 can be pitchers. 

Edited by LA VIkes Fan, 25 June 2019 - 09:37 AM.


#11 Mike Sixel

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Posted 25 June 2019 - 09:50 AM

If he's not traded, concur. They will need to buy a lot of pitching next year, whether that is keeping Gibson and,or, odorrizi, or going outside, or both. I'd roll the dice on Arreaz, Gordon, and Gonzales bring just fine there next year
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#12 Blake

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Posted 25 June 2019 - 10:12 AM

Arraez only goes to 2nd base if Dick is told to give up on the "r" roll....

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#13 rdehring

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Posted 25 June 2019 - 10:14 AM

As you all know, I am a huge fan of Arraez.And yes, I expect he will be the starting second baseman next April.Does he begin that role in July?Don't know if the Twins feel trading Schoop would upset the apple cart.Also don't know what they could get for Schoop in a July trade...but I bet they will keep their ears open to any inquiries.

 

As for resigning Schoop.Don't see it for several reasons.First and foremost, the Twins are going to be spending a lot of money this winter extending Rosario, Buxton, and Berrios.They are also gonna spend big money on starting pitching, whether it is by signing a free agent or resigning Gibson and/or Odorizzi.Another reason is that Arraez is a ready replacement for the future...at cheap dollars for several years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by rdehring, 25 June 2019 - 10:17 AM.


#14 SwainZag

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Posted 25 June 2019 - 10:25 AM

 

As you all know, I am a huge fan of Arraez.And yes, I expect he will be the starting second baseman next April.Does he begin that role in July?Don't know if the Twins feel trading Schoop would upset the apple cart.Also don't know what they could get for Schoop in a July trade...but I bet they will keep their ears open to any inquiries.

 

I don't see any reason a team in the position that the Twins are in would trade an asset like Schoop.He is on a 1 year deal, above replacement level at a fairly premium position and would be worth a lot more to a contending team than to one trading off pieces at the deadline.

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#15 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 25 June 2019 - 10:27 AM

I woudln't trade Schoop. I think he gives them a better chance to win now. I can definitely see rolling with Arraez in 2020, but it's worth noting your primary backups are Gordon and Blankenhorn (the latter I believe is a 40 man decision this offseason). 

 

That could be potentially dicey. Flip side is that the lineup is deep enough to absorb some bumps in the road there. 

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#16 MMMordabito

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Posted 25 June 2019 - 10:29 AM

 

I saw that Arraez played SS for a couple of days and I want to say he played 3B for at least a game as well. I know that's a small sample size but any feedback on how he looked and played in the field? It would really help if he and Gonzalez could both be super utility types next year essentially rotating through the 2B and 3B positions with Sano getting 100-120 games at 3B, particularly since the rosters go to 26 players and I think only 13 can be pitchers. 

 

He was part of that rangeless keystone combo with Astudillo in the Red Sox game that Baldelli basically gave away.I love Arraez, but not at SS.  

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#17 jimbo92107

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Posted 25 June 2019 - 11:28 AM

From the little I've seen, Arraez appears to have a bit more zip on his throws than Polanco, who now is an adequate starting shortstop. Arraez showed a very quick ball transfer on a double play a few games ago, fielding a ball at SS and getting rid of it very quickly to start a DP. 

 

His bat is what got him here, but Lois Arraez will continue to refine his other skills, just like Polanco did. He will be a very good starter at 2B, but maybe not the power hitter Polanco is.

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#18 LimestoneBaggy

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Posted 25 June 2019 - 11:50 AM

Why should Arraez be on the team?

 

[Billy Beane points at Peter Brand]..."Pete?"

 

Peter Brand: "He gets on base."

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#19 jkcarew

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Posted 25 June 2019 - 12:32 PM

Even slumping, Schoop's OPS this year with the Twins (.777) is not far from what Arraez has in his minor league career. With that swing/approach, he's not going to develop power, and he's no threat on the bases. So, my offensive expectations for Arraez are muted. Having said that, I'm fine with them rolling with Arraez in 2020 to save money for upgrades elsewhere....the OBP is likely to remain good, he seems adequate at second, and if you have enough power coming from other positions, the OBP plays well.

 

You still ride Schoop in 2019, though.

Edited by jkcarew, 25 June 2019 - 12:35 PM.

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#20 Doomtints

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Posted 25 June 2019 - 12:34 PM

Absolutely, but why wait? Trade Schoop for some pitching at the deadline.

 

Or, trade Sano and play Arraez at third.

Edited by Doomtints, 25 June 2019 - 12:36 PM.

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