Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Luis Arraez Could Hit A Fly With A Chopstick

Now entering the beginning of June some of the performances to start the 2022 MLB are being viewed under a microscope. Among the numbers that is viewed and hated upon equally is the batting average which to this point can be useful, but not the end all be all. In cases such as Minnesota Twins second baseman Luis Arraez, the high batting average is always there and on the surface of a 26.4% hard-hit rate and only 7 home runs to his name despite recording over 1000+ plate appearances. The 25 year old Arraez carries a .359/.452/.415 slash-line while having an impressive 24:14 BB/K ratio, at the end of May.

A quarter of the way through 2022 and Arraez’s career numbers add up to a career 4.6 fWAR (0.8 in 2022). Much if not all of the value Arraez provides the Minnesota Twins with comes from his incredible contact ability and not so much his defensive ability that sits in the bottom 1 percentile in OAA. But what makes Arraez as a player is the incredible contact skills he possesses and will look to continue his hot stretch to 2022.

Fastball Hunter

Among qualified hitters against opposing 4-seam fastballs, whiffing only 5.1% of the time barely ahead of Jose Ramirez at 6.1%. Arraez currently leads the league with a .450 batting average against the pitch and 59 points ahead of the next closest hitter while slugging .550 off the pitch. A .524 woba sits 4th behind the behemoths of Juan Soto, Nolan Arenado and Aaron Judge.

Something that Arraez seemingly does better than all of these hitters is his microscopic 5.4% whiff rate against the pitch and for the season sits in the 100th percentile at 8.2% on the season. Majority of Arraez’s whiffs in 2022 have come from breaking pitches, whiffing at a 14.7% rate which is his highest against all group of pitches. He manages to increase his quality of contact against and that reflects with his .359 xBA this season.

The results against off-speed and breaking pitches is where once opposing teams learn to throw him anything but a fastball is where we could see the numbers start to dip. Sliders and change-ups have been the only two pitches this year where Arraez is striking out more than 10% of the time and xWOBAs under .300.

Each year Arraez has worsened his GB/FB ratio and this season his ground-ball% has rose to 48.6% while sporting a lowly 82 wRC+. He has managed to make up for that in 2022 with a .919 batting average on line-drives and a monstrous 486 wRC+. For his career he has managed hit grounders for a respectable .280 batting average while seemingly being an easy out on fly-balls where he reaches at a .125 clip and a -1 wRC+. Arraez has never had even average power hitter (7 career home-runs) finishing in the bottom 10th percentile in the league each year topping out at 36.4% in 2021.

vs LHP18.8%53.1%28.1%
vs RHP5.3%66.7%28.1%
Data via: Fangraphs.com

Since 2019 Arraez sits with the lowest swinging strike% at 3.5% and sits third with a z-contact at 94.2% which sits third. The chance for more power is still possible for Arraez which could result in slightly more harder contact and an increase in his career barrel rate of 2.7% While not technically being a full time player on the AL Central leading Minnesota Twins, he has shown to be one of the premier contact hitters in the game that has shown the ability handle major league velocity while actually improving contact quality on fastballs.

Murray Brown

Murray is a student at Humber College and can be found on Twitter at @_MurrayBrown