At least some regression is expected after the Twins posted a ridiculous .270/.338/.494 (.832) line in 2019. It is likely that the overall offensive production will generally decrease as the baseball should be de-juiced and Nelson Cruz will be a year older. On-base wizard Luis Arraez will hit more than four homers, but do his peripherals show concern for regression in other areas?
Luis Arraez was one of many breakouts for the Twins in 2019. Arraez ranked as the No.15 prospect in the Twins system on MLB Pipeline before the season. There was no doubt Arraez could hit, but his questionable athleticism and lack of power hampered his upside as a prospect. These stats say it all about how he fared in his first season in the big leagues:
Arraez was called up in May and became nothing short of a marvel at the plate. His zone contact percentage was a pristine 94%, almost 11% higher than league average. His chase rate was well below average at 24.3%. Arraez made contact on 87.4% of pitches outside the zone, nearly 30% more than the average player. Arraez struck out just 7.9% of the time, ranking in the top 1% in MLB. It looks like the Twins have found an unlikely cornerstone piece. Arraez is a catalyst and a nightmare for an opposing pitcher.
Arraez got ahead in 49% of counts, hitting .398/.497/.586 (1.083) in 163 tries after being up 1-0. When down 0-1, Arraez hit a pedestrian .291/.327/.342 (.669). When ahead in the count, he hit .448/.585/.676 (1.261) compared to .252/.252/.291 (.544) when behind.
When controlling the count, pitchers had the luxury of shying away from the fastball, a pitch that Arraez hit to the tune of .364. Arraez whiffed on just 5.9% of fastballs but 12.5% of off-speed and breaking pitches. On off-speed and breaking pitches, Arraez had expected batting averages of .248 and .256, respectively. On the AL Central clinching night, Luis Arraez defied his Statcast trend on this 1-1 curveball from Drew VerHagen:
Arraez hit .334/.399/.439 (.838) with a .355 BABIP in 92 games. In August, Arraez saw his BABIP lowered to a much more realistic .310. His monthly production responded as he hit .293/.350/.380 (.730) in 103 plate appearances. This is eerily close to the .286/.332/.395 (.727) line that Statcast expected from him this year.
Arraez was coined as “La Regadera” (The Sprinkler) for his ability to spray hits all over the field. Arraez loves to push the ball, owning a 36.7% opposite field rate. Looking at his wOBA chart, he seems to have an eye for outside pitches. Arraez struggled with pitches located on the inner half, but crushed most pitches away:
Pitchers will be adjusting to the surging sophomore in 2020. The strike zone will hopefully be around the same size (robot umps, please!), and Arraez can absolutely continue his production if he maintains elite plate discipline. This is a tall task for a young gun, but Arraez has been seemingly unfazed thus far.
Getting ahead in the count and forcing fastballs is key for most hitters, but Arraez showed that this will be especially important moving forward.
For much more on Luis Arraez and his amazing campaign:
- Excellent Plate Discipline Emphasizes Why Luis Arraez Deserves Starting Spot in 2020
- Twins Daily 2019 Awards: Rookie of the Year
- The Future Value of Luis Arraez