Gomez: Luis Arraez may be better than Tony Gwynn
Luis Arraez’s numbers compare favorably to Hall of Famer
With MLB’s embrace of launch angle and exit velocity, it’s hard to imagine that a new and improved version of Tony Gwynn would emerge. That is until Luis Arraez made his debut for the Minnesota Twins nearly four years ago to the day.
Since then, comparisons between the Hall of Famer and the San Felipe, Venezuela, native have been undeniable.
Through their first 1,737 plate appearances, both players have been virtually identical. You might even say that Arraez has a slight edge.
Let’s start with the stat most associated with Gwynn, batting average. Arraez, 26, trails Gwynn in this area, but just barely.
More power than Gwynn
What their averages indicate is that both players put the ball in play for hits at virtually the same rate. The difference between both players lies within their on-base plus slugging (OPS).
Here, Arraez creates some separation between himself and Gwynn, who had 3,141 hits over his 20 years with the San Diego Padres.
Arraez, who has 503 career hits a quarter into his fifth season in the majors, exhibits more patience at the plate in addition to more power.
In all, the Miami Marlins infielder has drawn 26 more bases on balls and has 12 more extra-base hits than Gwynn through the same points in their careers. As a result, he has scored 11 more runs than Gwynn over the same span.
Again, the differences are minuscule. They are also enough to declare Arraez the better player. At least for now.
For his career, Gwynn has a .338 batting average. This means that he became a better hitter as opponents collected more of a sample size.
There is another eerie comparison between both players. They both have been within range of Ted Williams’ .406 single-season batting average record.
For Gwynn, it happened way back in 1994. That season, he had a .394 batting average through 110 games before MLB entered its longest work stoppage in history.
For Arraez, it’s happening right now. Through a quarter of the season (41 games) and 168 plate appearances, Arraez leads MLB with a .388 batting average.
By comparison, through Gwynn’s first 168 plate appearances of 1994, he had a .379 batting average.
For Arraez, no threat of a work stoppage exists as MLB and the MLBPA in the middle of a Collective Bargaining Agreement that doesn’t expire until December 2026.
Luis Arraez will be given a full season to target this record. It is unlikely that Arraez finishes the season with a batting average over .400.
It shouldn’t matter. The fact that Arraez can be compared to the likes of Gwynn and Williams is enough to declare him one of baseball’s best hitters ever.
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