Last year, Luis Araez ruined his chances for the Triple Crown by defeating Aaron Judge for the American League hitting title. After being traded from the Minnesota Twins to the Miami Marlins this year, Araez is part of another Yankee, DJ LeMahugh, in one of baseball’s rarest feats of winning batting titles in both leagues. It is possible that
Araez is a classic hitter who emphasizes contact over power, and has built a considerable lead over other hitters in Major League Baseball. Entering Thursday’s game, Araez, who batted .316 in 2022, is batting .398, trailing Ronald Acuna Jr. of the Atlanta Braves, who batted .347 for second in the majors, by 51 points. rice field.
It would be easy to assume that Araez is benefiting from MLB’s defensive shift ban. But while he’s okay with the change, he said before the season he doesn’t think he’s one of those hitters who need help.
“The shift was difficult for a lot of hitters,” he said. “I feel good about the shift because I can hit the ball anywhere I want. But no more shift for the hitters.”
True to his word, he spread the ball and led 30.4 percent of his hits, hitting 38.3 percent in front and 31.3 percent in the opposite direction, making him one of the few hitters this season, according to MLB’s statcast system. Became one of 13 At least 30 percent of his hits fall on each location.
Beyond that, Araez has developed into one of the most unusual hitters in this power-centric era. By Wednesday, his 49 hits were the third-most in the majors behind Toronto’s Bo Bichet and Acuña, but 41 of them were singles. Araez’s 20 percent slugging percentage (hits that fly the ball at 95 mph or more) ranked him 259th out of 263 eligible hitters, according to Statcast, with a major-leading 67 percent. Toronto’s Matt Chapman was many light-years short of . .
Expect some return to averages in a season like this, with Araez ending his 12-game hitting streak with a 0-for-3 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday and posting a .438 batting average. His recorded May batting average dropped to .298. in April. But given his own background and the gap he built over Acuna, he won the National League crown with a .348 batting average in 2016 with the Colorado Rockies and a .364 batting average with the Yankees in 2016. He has a legitimate chance to match LeMahugh’s AL crown. The 2020 season was shortened due to the pandemic.
Contrary to many reports that LeMahugh was the only person to achieve this feat, he already has friends. Ed Delahanty won the National League title with a .410 batting average with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1899 and the AL championship with a .376 batting average with the Washington Senators in 1902. Both are inscribed on the Cooperstown Hall of Fame plaque.
There was some ambiguity about the 1902 American League championship, as sites such as Baseball Reference rated Philadelphia and Cleveland’s .378 batting average that year as Knapp Lajois. However, MLB’s official scorekeeper, the Elias Sports Bureau, has provided no compelling evidence that La Joiah’s batting average is .366 and that his line should be changed. And while there were no formal eligibility criteria for batting titles prior to 1950, Lajoie failed to meet the generally accepted standard of appearing in 60 percent of his team’s games, leading to his vacancy as batting champion in 1902. Arguments would also be baseless (he played in 1902, appearing in 87 games during a 154-game season) or appearing in 3.1 at-bats per game for the team (his 385 at-bats reached 92). did not).
Of course, joining the list, which currently only has two players, would be a huge achievement regardless of what people think about batting averages in this era. But with Araez leading Acuña, he could join yet another shortlist. In baseball’s consolidation era (1947 to the present), only one hitter has led the majors in batting average by more than 50 points in a season, Rod Carew, who batted .388 with the Minnesota Twins in 1977. , far exceeded it. National League leader Dave Parker of the Pirates hit .338.
The record for the largest batting lead in the major leagues dates back to 2016. First officially recognized major league seasonIn 1876, Chicago’s Ross Burns batted .429, beating Philadelphia’s George Hall by 63 points.
Can Arais get there? It’s unlikely, but few things are completely out of reach for baseball’s most unusual hitters.
As for how he developed his contact-focused approach, Araez said it was very simple.
“Because I hate strikeouts,” he said. “I don’t like strikeouts, so I want to get on base a lot.”
Tyler Kepner Contributed to the report.