500 hits the latest milestone for Miami Marlins’ Luis Arraez

Miami Marlins batsman Luis Arraez (3) waits on the field during the first inning of an MLB game against the Washington Nationals at LoanDepot Park in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami, Florida on Thursday, May 18, 2023.

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Every time Luis Arraez steps into the batter’s box, he has only one thought on his mind.

“I want to win the fight,” Arraez said.

It doesn’t matter what team he’s up against, what pitcher he’s up against, what score, what game situation, what count. When Arraez bats, the goal is to make contact, put the ball in play, and ultimately score.

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Usually that’s easier said than done. After all, baseball is a game of failure.

But not for Arraez, who seems to land a hit almost every time he’s ready to bat. The 26-year-old infielder is in his first season with the Miami Marlins after being acquired in a trade with the Minnesota Twins and in his fifth MLB season overall, already a batting title and is considered one of the most consistent hitters in the league league .

Arraez reached the latest milestone of his still burgeoning career on Wednesday when he scored his 500th career goal in just his 428th career game. He added three more goals to that total on Friday and one more on Saturday, bringing the total to 504. In Saturday’s games, he leads MLB with a .387 batting average and .444 on-base percentage while tied for third with 60 goals.

But for Arraez, this success is just the beginning of many big goals.

“It’s a lot of goals,” said Arraez, “but I have to keep playing.” I want more. I don’t know how many, but I want more.”

Miami Marlins second baseman Luis Arraez (3) waves to fans as he takes the field during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds Sunday, May 14, 2023 at LoanDepot Park in Miami. Alie Skowronski [email protected]

“Unique Ability”

The number of hits in itself is a masterpiece. Only six other active players have 500 goals in as many or fewer games as Arraez: Bo Bichette (407), Mookie Betts (408), Mike Trout (423), Jose Altuve (426), Whit Merrifield (426) and Jose Abreu (428).

But the way Arraez scored his goals is probably even more impressive.

In the simplest sense, it is an analytical anomaly.

In an era where power and punching power rule the landscape, Arraez uses his off-ball hitting and barrel manipulation skills to achieve his success. He leads the league in batting average this season despite only hitting a home run and a triple. His 20.1 percent hard hit rate — the percentage of balls in play with an exit speed of at least 95 miles per hour — is in the bottom percentile in MLB this season. Its average exit speed is in the bottom third of the league.

Arraez goes against the current in this regard. Instead, when hitting, he follows a tried-and-true path to success that predates advanced analysis: just hit the ball where the defense isn’t.

“He,” said Marlin’s batting coach Brant Brown, “has a unique ability to make contact, a unique ability to see the ball and, of course, a unique ability to work inside the ball.”

Added Marlins manager Skip Schumaker, “The guy can hit any pitch. He always has a good record. It feels like he always takes a two strike approach just because of the way he acts up there. There is no panic. He’s always ready to go. What I find most impressive is the way he manipulates the barrel. It doesn’t matter if it’s a high incline, low incline, offspeed or velo. It does not matter.”

Want more? Consider some of these statistical points:

In 431 career games played, Arraez has more multiple hit games (141) than zero hit games (121).

His 45 career three-hit games are the 10th most in MLB since his debut in 2019.

His longest career unbeaten run: five. He didn’t go more than two straight games without a goal that year.

“He had a two-game funk and you’re like, ‘Oh my god.’ When will he strike again?’, said Schumaker, “and then it says: ‘Two hits’. Two hits. Two hits.’ …. He puts together competitive batsmen.”

Miami Marlins second baseman Luis Arraez (3) celebrates with teammates after scoring a run against the Chicago Cubs in the first inning of an MLB game at LoanDepot Park on Saturday, April 29, 2023 in Miami, Fla . MATIAS J.OCNER [email protected]

“He makes it look easy”

Arraez visualizes in his mind where he wants the ball to be placed once it hits the plate based on the pitcher and defense alignment.

He’s got a knack for hitting every square, and his splits are more even than ever this year — pulling the ball 32.1 percent of the time, centering and going in 37.1 percent of the time 30.7 percent of the cases in the opposite field.

He rarely bounces the ball (an astonishingly low 0.7 percent this year) while throwing in a lot of line drives (30.5 percent career, 30.7 percent this season).

This combination, coupled with an uncanny ability to make contact, has led to his continued success.

“Everyone expects to get hit. He makes it look easy,” said infielder Jean Segura. “The guy is amazing the way he accumulates hits. It’s hard to do. That is not easy. People keep mentioning and talking about “Oh, his exit bike” and whatever. He’s not one of the best for nothing. I hope he continues to do so and succeeds. The guy has had a great career. He has such great racquet handling skills. As he’s done throughout his career, it’s amazing how talented the kid is.”

The comparisons to some of baseball’s best batsmen have understandably made the rounds. Arraez reminds Schumaker of Tony Gwynn. He reminds Brown of Freddie Freeman in his approach to a punch.

There was also competition with Rod Carew, with whom Arraez is close and worked with during his time with the Twins.

Arraez himself wanted to follow in the footsteps of Endy Chavez, a fellow Venezuelan left-hander.

“I watched him a lot,” Arraez said.

Now eyes are on Arraez.

This season alone, Arraez has 17 multi-hit games, six three-hit games, and two four-hit games to his name. He scored for the first time in Marlins history.

And he’s only had six starts where he didn’t score.

“It feels like he has 500 [hits] this year,” said Schumaker. “Every time I look up, he has two hits. What can you say about Arraez? He’s been so consistent throughout the year.”


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