Could the lost “four-hole hitter” be back? Miami Marlins left-handed hitter Luis Arajuez (26-Venezuela) is hitting like crazy.
Araúez went 5-for-5 with a home run against the Oakland Athletics on 3 March. After his first five-hit game of the season, Arajuez has now pounded out eight hits in his last four games. As of the 8th, his season batting average is exactly 4% (86 for 215). Unsurprisingly, this is the highest batting average in all of Major League Baseball (MLB).
He’s been especially hot in his last 15 games, batting a whopping .448. While the team has only played 37% of its regular season schedule (60 games), it’s easy to get excited about the prospect of a four-figure batting average. MLB.com has daily highlight videos of Arajuez.안전놀이터
Miami manager Skip Schumaker said, “It’s hard to think of a hitter hitting the way he’s hitting right now. It’s crazy. There’s no comparison, honestly. I’ve never seen a hitter like him.” Araújo, who made his big league debut with the Minnesota Twins in 2019, led the American League in batting last year (.316) in his fourth year and is now battling in the “dream zone.
The “four-hitter” is an extinct species. In Major League Baseball (MLB), Ted Williams (0.406) last hit over four figures in 1941. After that, the closest was Tony Gwynn’s 0.394 in 1994, when the season ended early in August due to a union strike. The best in the 21st century is 0.372 by Ichiro Suzuki in 2004. In 2009, Joe Mauer batted .415 through 71 games, but ultimately finished the season at .365.
With the development of sabermetrics (a statistical and mathematical approach to baseball), batting average has become less valuable than it used to be, and long balls have become more valuable. This has led to a stronger tendency to take an “upswing” or swing for the fences, even if it means striking out, rather than just hitting the ball out of the park. The average MLB batting average, which was 0.270 in 2000, has continued to decline, dropping to 0.243 last year.
Araez bucked the trend. At 1.78 metres tall and 79 kilograms, he is smaller than the average major leaguer, so he opted for accuracy: aiming low and focusing on driving the ball into the ground. He doesn’t raise his hands high in his batting preparation, and there’s very little take-back (pulling the bat back to gather power).
As a result, his ability to generate hard contact ranks near the bottom of MLB. Of his 87 hits this year, he has one home run. One triple. His only other hit came on 12 April against the Philadelphia Phillies, a cycling hit.
Instead, he doesn’t swing for the fences much. This year, Arajuez has a 4.6% strikeout rate, the lowest in MLB. When he swings at pitches inside the strike zone, he’s made contact 94.6 per cent of the time. It doesn’t matter what type of pitcher he’s facing (righties batting .410, lefties batting .382), or at home (0.413) or on the road (0.389). Even in unfavourable pitch counts, he doesn’t just put the bat on the ball, he sends it to the middle of the plate to increase his chances of a hit.
Major league lefties also struggle with defensive shifts. But not Araúez. He has the ability to drive low and outside pitches to third base. His batted ball distribution is evenly spread across the field. He doesn’t have a high percentage of long balls, so opponents don’t have to change their defence.
As Song Jae-woo explains, “Araez is a ‘pure hitter’ – a hitter with great power. His ability to hit is so good. In the past, there were Wade Boggs and Tony Gwynn, but after Ichiro, this lineage of hitters was broken. When I won the batting title last year, I felt like my eyes were opened. I think I got better because I focused on what I was good at.”
There’s a saying in MLB that the home run king drives a Cadillac and the RBI king drives a Ford. The implication is that it’s harder to achieve wealth and fame if you’re a shifty hitter. But even a “ticker” can become a star at the highest level. Araúez, who moved to Miami this year, won the salary arbitration and signed for $6.1 million. If he achieves a “4 per cent batting average,” he could easily win the league MVP.
“It’s still early, but it’s great to be hitting .400 right now. I don’t know if he can hit four, but he’s the most sophisticated hitter at the moment.” “It’s true that such players lose in MVP voting. But the MVP is a vote, and it’s all about atmosphere. With the recent rule changes, MLB is trying to showcase the diversity of baseball instead of just home runs. That’s why they’re trying to make Arajuez stand out even more. The Miami team is in good form, so I think they have a good shot at it.”