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?