The MLB has not seen a player hit a .400 average in a single season since Ted Williams in 1941 for the Boston Red Sox when he hit .406. Williams is one of baseball’s most prolific hitters to ever play the game. The .400 batting average milestone has always held such significant meaning in the game. Can little-known Luis Arraez attach his name to this legendary milestone in 2023?
Ted Williams To Luis Arraez: The Chase To Hit .400
Currently, Luis Arraez of the Miami Marlins is hitting an eye-popping .399 AVG as of the end of day June 5th, 61 games through the season. The underrated Arraez has flown under the radar for a few years now, even with him winning the American League batting title over Aaron Judge in 2022.
Who Is Luis Arraez?
Arraez is currently a 26-year-old lefty batter for the Miami Marlins. He made his MLB debut for the Minnesota Twins in 2019 as a 22-year-old. Out of the gates in 2019 he shined, slashing his way to a .334 AVG and a .399 OBP. Finishing the season sixth in the AL Rookie of the Year voting.
Since then Arraez hit .321 AVG in 2020, .294 AVG in 2021, and an AL batting title-winning .316 AVG in 2022. 2022 also brought him his first All-Star selection, his first Silver Slugger award, and finishing 13th in MVP voting. The end of the 2022 season also brought a new chapter to Arraez’s career.
He was traded from the Twins to the Marlins for (RHP) Pablo Lopez, and two prospects, (INF) Jose Salas and (OF) Byron Chourio. At the time the trade was considered a win-win and even currently it can be seen that same way.
Why He Can Hit .400
Luis Arraez is arguably one of the game’s purest hitters. The old school bat-to-ball and put-the-ball-in-play kind of hitter. In recent years baseball has not been seen much at all, which makes him a breath of fresh air. A true hitter who before the shift ban, could not be shifted anyway.
The numbers prove this, currently this year Arraez is hitting .414 AVG on balls in play or BAbip. His SO% sits at only 4.8%, which are both career bests. His ability to put the ball in play is huge, you can’t get a hit without making contact.
Arraez’s ability to spread the ball around the field is astonishing as well. In 2023 he currently sits at about 25.1% pull, 54.8% to center, and 20.1% opposite field. Both his oppo and center percentages are above the league averages, meaning his pull percentage is under the league average.
He also is above league average in line drive and ground ball percentage, he currently sits at 30.7% LB% and 45.2% GB%. While comes in under average on flyball percentage where he sits at 21.1%. With line drives and ground balls producing more hits and runs per game, those are great stats to have when chasing that magical .400 number.
To add to those stats, Arraez 2023 is currently batting .405 AVG vs righties and .382 AVG vs lefties. While also producing a .468 AVG with runners in scoring position. Being able to hit against any pitcher, spread the ball to all fields and avoid the dreaded strikeout provides Luis Arraez with a higher chance than anyone else in the MLB to be the first player to reach the .400 AVG mark in 82 years.
The Majestic Number
Arraez is chasing history, the season is still young but that doesn’t mean the .400 AVG watch can’t be on. We’ve seen chases in the past fall short but it doesn’t mean they weren’t as exciting as the 1998 Home Run Race or counting down the outs to a Perfect Game.
Players like Tony Gwynn in 1994 or George Brett in 1980 came close. Gwynn finished at .394 AVG while Brett landed at .390 AVG. Or even Rod Carew in 1977 when he was batting at least .400 as late as July 10th and finished the season at .388 AVG.
Each season brings different storylines, stars, division races, and records. The chase for history is always magical and memorable. We saw it in 2022 with Judge chasing down Roger Maris and his 61 Home Runs. This year it might just be Luis Arraez chasing down Ted Williams and the elusive .400 average club.
Main Image: Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports