The Tenth Inning
 The Tenth Inning Blog
Periodically, I will post new entries about current baseball topics.  The posts will typically be a mixture of commentary, history, facts, and stats.  Hopefully, they will provoke some  of your thoughts or emotions. Clicking on the word "Comments" associated with each post below will open a new dialog box to enter or retrieve any feedback.
Who is Luis Arraez?

If you don’t already know the name Luis Arraez, you should. The Miami Marlins second baseman has quietly come onto the major-league landscape. It’s probably because he hasn’t played for a big-market team. But here’s a player who apparently knows how to hit. He won the American League batting title last year when he was playing for the Minnesota Twins. And now he’s pushing the .400-mark at mid-season.

The 26-year-old Venezuelan made his major-league debut with the Minnesota Twins in 2019, when he hit .334 in half of a season. Again, he flew under the radar in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season as he batted .321.

Arraez had trouble finding a full-time position with the Twins in 2021. With Jorge Polanco entrenched at second base (with 33 homers and 98 RBIs), Arraez was by the Twins used a “super-utility” player, with appearances in both infield and outfield positions. Still, he turned in a .294 batting average.

Last season, Arraez led the American League with a .316 batting average, earning an All-Star appearance and a Silver Slugger Award. When Aaron Judge was threatening to win the Triple Crown, it was Arraez who was standing in his way to accomplishing the rare feat. (Judge finished second with a .311 batting average.) Arraez was the first Twins player to win a batting title since Joe Mauer in 2009.

Oddly, Arraez was traded to the Marlins after the 2022 season for veteran pitcher Pablo Lopez and two teenage prospects. When the Twins decided to bolster their pitching rotation for 2023, Arraez was the one who became expendable, even though he was under team control until 2025. He is the first player since Hall of Famer Rod Carew (1978) to be traded after winning a batting title.

Arraez is currently batting a phenomenal .388 at mid-season. He already has 116 hits, on a pace to exceed 200, which is generally acknowledged as a significant milestone for a single season. His closest NL competitor is Ronald Acuna Jr. with a .333 average. Arraez has a .439 OBP, first in the NL. Intentional walks are usually employed against power-hitting threats, yet he’s been intentionally walked eight times, first in the league. If there is a knock against his performance, it’s that he doesn’t hit for power. His highest home run total for a season is eight in 2022. He has only three so far this season.

Arraez had his third 5-hit game in the month of June on the 16th. He is one of only four players to accomplish this in a single month, along with Dave Winfield, Ty Cobb, and George Sisler.

For advanced batting stats using FanGraphs, Arraez is second in the majors with a BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) of .402. He is fifth in wRC+ (Adjusted Runs Created) at 153. He has the lowest Strikeout Rate at 5.2%.

He is one of the main reasons the Marlins are 12 games above .500. They are in second place, 8 games behind the Atlanta Braves. The Marlins have the third-best record in the National League.

Past history says Arraez won’t end up with a .400 batting average. The last player to do this was Ted Williams in 1941, when he hit .406. Tony Gwynn came the closest since Williams, with a .394 mark in the strike-shortened (114 games) 1994 season. George Brett hit .390 in 1980. Arraez would be in rare company with those Hall of Fame hitters, if he can maintain his current pace.

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