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Minnesota’s Second Coming of Rod Carew


Twins Daily Contributor

It’s time to start talking about it. We’re over 60 games into the 2022 Major League Baseball season and the Minnesota Twins currently have a contender for the batting title. Rod Carew and his seven batting titles with Minnesota will all be remembered fondly, but Luis Arraez could provide the organization’s first since Joe Mauer in 2009.

 

There’s zero comparison between a Hall of Famer with over 3,000 hits to a lovable utility guy with 300 games under his belt. However, it’s undeniable to see the similarities in style between that of Rod Carew and Luis Arraez.

Carew entered the league a year younger than Arraez and won his first batting title during just his third professional season. Minnesota’s current utility man is now in his fourth year and recently turned 25. Like Carew, Arraez is now a second basemen while routinely getting reps at first base with Minnesota in a pinch. Longevity aside, Carew’s career .328/.393/.429 slash line is not far off for Arraez who sits at .322/.387/.409.

This season has been especially fun for Arraez who has been virtually unstoppable against right-handed pitching. In an era where power reigns supreme, Arraez is slashing a ridiculous .401/.482/.497 against righties. He’s well below average contributing just a .220/.304/.220 slash line against southpaws, but Minnesota has done well to limit the exposure giving him just 46 plate appearances in those situations.

With predominantly more right-handed arms as starting pitchers than left-handed, it stands to reason that Minnesota could continue to see additional output from Arraez as the season goes on. Thus far he’s topped out at a .367 average, that coming just a few games ago. In comparison to Carew, that would rank behind just his .388 season back in 1977.

Batting average has long gone away as a stat indicative of true performance in and of itself. For a player like Arraez, or even Carew before him, the metric being so lopsided does explain itself, however. Additionally, Arraez contributes in the more definitive on-base area. With 25 walks to just 18 strikeouts, Minnesota’s utility man has captured the ability to not only hit his way on base, but force the opposition into his plan of attack at the plate. Leading baseball with a .444 OBP, Arraez is currently at a mark north of everything Carew hit save for that 1977 year. Considering the change in how baseball is played, it’s fair to argue that Arraez’s performance today may be more substantial than what Carew did all those years ago.

All of this comes with the caveat that we still have a long ways to go, and that Arraez has previously missed time due to injury. Even at a young age, his knees are bulky and no yearly awards are won in June. Trying to extrapolate anything from a one-year sample is also not a fair situation to put Arraez in. Carew is a legendary name both in Minnesota and Major League Baseball, but it’s certainly hard not to see how closely they relate.

It’s somewhat a breath of fresh air that we’re seeing a player go against the trends of the sport so heavily. The Twins have largely been shut out in terms of individual awards since the peak of Mauer, and turning the focus back to this organization for that reason is a fun one. Arraez has a long way to go for the rest of 2022, but it’s hard not to look down the path of this coming to fruition.

What do you think? How closely do you see Arraez relating to Carew? Does the former win his first batting title this season?

 


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Love this article.  Arraez is my favorite Twin - sorry Buxton.  BA is something that still counts for me as well as OBP!  Last night Buxton gets a HR and we get 2 runs because Arraez was on base.  Love it.  

His bulky knees are like Oliva, his hitting is like Carew, and his positive attitude and desire to play is like Tovar.  A nice combination.

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Carew started out as a slender slasher, bunter, speed guy and developed into a professional hitter, with HR power.  He used his wrists to swing -- smooth and quick, right to the ball, wherever it was pitched.

Arraez is a battler who swings with his arms, just hammers the ball.  He's stocky, short and strong, with a quick bat, especially for how hard he swings.

They don't much resemble each other at the plate, just the stat lines.

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BA still matters, I don't care what the stat geeks say. During a deadball season where the average player is around .220, I will take my boy Arraez 10 out of 10. In past articles on here he was ripped for not being a power hitter, I really don't care that he isn't. Watching a run get manufactured is much more enjoyable than seeing a guy punch one over the fence and then strikeout his next 4 ABs. 

Seems that his knee issues that he was knocked about have subsided this year. So i am assuming those issues have been healed and it was not a DJD issue. Have a feeling the Twins are going to regret not locking him up to a team friendly long term deal. 

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2 minutes ago, Old Twins Cap said:

Carew started out as a slender slasher, bunter, speed guy and developed into a professional hitter, with HR power.  He used his wrists to swing -- smooth and quick, right to the ball, wherever it was pitched.

Arraez is a battler who swings with his arms, just hammers the ball.  He's stocky, short and strong, with a quick bat, especially for how hard he swings.

They don't much resemble each other at the plate, just the stat lines.

Arraez reminds me more of Puckett than Carew. 

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Enjoyed the read. I am old enough to have been a Twins fan throughout the whole of Carew's time with the Twins. I remember watching him and going nuts when he would swipe home! 

Arraez is not gifted with the speed that Carew had, but one element that gets incredibly overlooked is his energy level. It is simply light years beyond any Twins teammates. Just watching him take at bats is usually worth highlight reels.

He is our spark plug. He loves playing the game and it shows. His ability to see the ball to the bat is about as good as I have ever seen. 

All-star team all the way. 

Thanks for the article.  

The Geezer

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1 hour ago, HrbieFan said:

Arraez reminds me more of Puckett than Carew. 

Yeah, you might have a point there.

Physically, more Puckett than Carew.

Joie de vivre, more Puckett than Carew.

Early in his career, Kirby did not hit many hrs either, and the way Arraez crushed the grand slam, might be indicative of things to come.

Ok, flirting with .400 BA (he might), more Carew than Puckett.

Still, liked the comparison. I hadn't thought of it.

 

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1 hour ago, Old Twins Cap said:

Carew started out as a slender slasher, bunter, speed guy and developed into a professional hitter, with HR power.  He used his wrists to swing -- smooth and quick, right to the ball, wherever it was pitched.

Arraez is a battler who swings with his arms, just hammers the ball.  He's stocky, short and strong, with a quick bat, especially for how hard he swings.

They don't much resemble each other at the plate, just the stat lines.

Yeah Carew probably had more steals of home in a season than Arraez had total steals of any base in one season. 

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I guess if you want to look for negatives you can say lack of speed or power. The base steeling will probably never be there, but he will pop a HR once in a while. Power is not his game though. His game as a top of the order guy is to get on base and let the guys behind him bring him home, which he seems to be doing at an excellent level. On top of that, look how many pitches he usually makes the guys throw. In todays era of pitch counts that is a factor that only increases his value!

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What I find interesting is that many OF US would've been more than happy to include him in a trade package during the off-season.

Now the question is how to play him MOST OF THE TIME. For his sake, yes, don't bat him against lefties, or have him hit lower in the order...because even if a team starts a lefty, they will probably switch to a right-hander before the end of the game.

 

 

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3 hours ago, VivaBomboRivera! said:

"Carew’s career .328/.393/.429 slash line..."

Very difficult to maintain this level of performance over 18 years.

I think the author seemed awfully careful to point that out repeatedly throughout the article.

Makes a fella want to stand up and cheer Rod Carew again when you watch a player performing this way for part of a season, then consider that Carew averaged that over 18 years. What a player!

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52 minutes ago, Rosterman said:

What I find interesting is that many OF US would've been more than happy to include him in a trade package during the off-season.

Now the question is how to play him MOST OF THE TIME. For his sake, yes, don't bat him against lefties, or have him hit lower in the order...because even if a team starts a lefty, they will probably switch to a right-hander before the end of the game.

 

 

Not me, I love this kid and want to see him retire as a Twin many years from now.  With that said, I hope they sign him to a contract this winter, maybe something similar to the recent Polanco/Kepler deals.

The highlight of most games for me is watching his at bats.  Gotta love those 8-9-10-11 pitch at bats that have to be so frustrating for the pitcher.  Understand that he reported to spring training several pounds lighter (does anyone know how many?) and in the best shape of his life.  Result is that he looks to be running much better and although not a base stealer, looks fine scoring from second or even first.  Also believe that he is working his way into being their regular first baseman, this year and beyond.  If Jared Spurgeon can be a team leader and top defenseman, Luis Arraez can be a starting first baseman.

The one ex-Twin he reminds me a lot of is Astudillo as he brings a lot of the same energy as the Turtle.  That comparison ends however, when he steps into the batter's box.  I believe this young man can continue hitting like he does throughout the year and hope like heck we are wondering come Labor Day, could he flirt with .400?  If not this year, maybe next?  

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16 minutes ago, Rosterman said:

What I find interesting is that many OF US would've been more than happy to include him in a trade package during the off-season.

Now the question is how to play him MOST OF THE TIME. For his sake, yes, don't bat him against lefties, or have him hit lower in the order...because even if a team starts a lefty, they will probably switch to a right-hander before the end of the game.

 

 

I was not one of those "trade Arraez" guys. Instead I argued to trade Donaldson and cut Sano in order to clear spots for the likes of Lewis, Kirilloff, Miranda and Larnach and keep Arraez's bat in the lineup. So I feel vindicated. Not bragging, just wanting to briefly bask in vindication because vindication is not something I am overly familiar with. Happens maybe once every ten years or so. The other nine years I suck. I bet on the Vikings to win the Superbowl... four times, just as an example of my usual sports management/predictive abilities.

But here's what drove my reasoning for keeping Arraez and going with the "yutes" in 2022; the experience the young guys pick up this year at the major league level, coupled with their obvious talent, will put the Twins in the World Series next year.

And they'll take the title.

Bet on it.

 

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Tony Gwynn seems a better comp to Arraez. One of my favorite features is how Luis will stretch an at-bat out for several extra pitches, making the pitcher run up his count. Then he strokes an easy single, right where he aimed it. Remember Carew's advice, right before Arraez's hot streak?

"Crouch a little lower."

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So happy Arraez didn’t get traded in the off season. He is clearly the offense catalyst an All Star this year.  His enthusiasm is capturing fans, kind of the anti Sano from that stand point. While he doesn’t have a specific position he has shown the ability to play first, second, third, and outfield in a pinch. They need to sign him to a long term contract. 

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4 hours ago, dxpavelka said:

"Batting average has long gone away as a stat indicative of true performance in and of itself."  Unless we want to tout one of our guys for having a good one.

The first thing I learned to admire in a hitter was a .300 batting average, but even as little kid reading the backs of baseball cards, no one used batting average all by itself. In my experience, it never was a standalone stat, even before analytics we knew that Tom Brunansky was a more impactful hitter at .245 than Greg Gagne was at .254 

Batting average never was a stat indicative of true performance in and of itself -but it is a useful measure.

The arguments from analytics enthusiasts seem to be based on a perception that users of old school stats don't understand this. Not true. We do. I like to use classic and modern, advanced stats.

Somehow though, there is a romantic nostalgia for describing a player's performance with the measures I learned as a young fan and I still admire a batting champion. I want Luis to stay strong and productive so we're still having this conversation at the end of the year. 

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31 minutes ago, roger said:

Not me, I love this kid and want to see him retire as a Twin many years from now.  With that said, I hope they sign him to a contract this winter, maybe something similar to the recent Polanco/Kepler deals.

The highlight of most games for me is watching his at bats.  Gotta love those 8-9-10-11 pitch at bats that have to be so frustrating for the pitcher.  Understand that he reported to spring training several pounds lighter (does anyone know how many?) and in the best shape of his life.  Result is that he looks to be running much better and although not a base stealer, looks fine scoring from second or even first.  Also believe that he is working his way into being their regular first baseman, this year and beyond.  If Jared Spurgeon can be a team leader and top defenseman, Luis Arraez can be a starting first baseman.

The one ex-Twin he reminds me a lot of is Astudillo as he brings a lot of the same energy as the Turtle.  That comparison ends however, when he steps into the batter's box.  I believe this young man can continue hitting like he does throughout the year and hope like heck we are wondering come Labor Day, could he flirt with .400?  If not this year, maybe next?  

 

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I have like Arraez since he came up.  Many have been down on him for lack of power, which makes him not a top prospect, but he brings something very important to a lineup.  His approach reminds me more of Tony Gwynn than Carew, but both of them could hit lefties much better than Arraez.  Maybe it is SSS for Arraez as this year is even lower numbers than career, but his career numbers are a large split.  It does warrant sitting him against lefty starters and pinch hit later in game against a righty.  

As for the slugging, Arraez is right up with Carew normal year of slugging.  Carew career was the .429, but he was normally closer to .400 or lower, he had a few big seasons in slugging to raise the career.  Where Arraez does have a bit of drawback is his lack of speed and base stealing.  Either way, I enjoy watching his at bats as he almost never gives anything away, and I have a feeling if defenses start to try and rob his line drives he might just start to increase his angle and try to drive it over their heads for those extra base hits. 

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Just now, chinmusic said:

 

Yep, those double digit pitch counts have become an Arraez signature, and they're great!

I really don't see the Willans comparison though. Polar opposites regarding pitch count.

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49 minutes ago, Mike Sixel said:

Zero "stat geeks" have said BA doesn't matter. Sigh.

Arraez has been amazing this year (and last). It really is special what he's doing right now. 

As someone that appreciates stats quite a bit, BA is still one of the first things a look at.  There's a reason it's the first thing listed in a triple slash line.  If "stats geeks" didn't like it, they wouldn't keep using it. 

Arraez is great.  I hope he's with the team for a long, long time.  He's a special player. 

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5 hours ago, RetractableProof said:

You wrote "There’s zero comparison" and then spent the rest of the article comparing them.

Haha bothered me too. And there's nothing wrong with comparing them...we all understand the difference between a Hall of famer and a 4 year player but Luis has been around long enough now that it's clear this isn't a fluke. He's done enough to invite preliminary comparison. The only question now is how high is his ceiling and how long he can keep it up.

Also, I think his popularity with the fan base debunks the myth that baseball is only interesting when lots of home runs are being hit.

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1 hour ago, chinmusic said:

Yep, those double digit pitch counts have become an Arraez signature, and they're great!

I really don't see the Willans comparison though. Polar opposites regarding pitch count.

My point was that he has similar energy.  Did mention that the comparison ends when he steps into the batter's box.

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