As we did last offseason, Twinkie Town writers are grading every player who appeared in a game for the 2020 Minnesota Twins. (Last year’s grades can be found here, this year’s here.) Players will be graded individually on an A-F scale based on their hitting, fielding, and whatever else the author wants to consider.
The 2020 season was a bit of a roller coaster for everyone. Condensed into one player, Luis Arraez was the perfect example of this.
Arraez burst onto the scene in 2019 and vaulted himself from fringe prospect/likely utility player to the team’s second baseman of the present and future. As a 22-year-old rookie with very little Triple-A experience, Arraez slashed .334/.399/.439 with one of the lowest strikeout rates in the league.
Incumbent second baseman Jonathan Schoop was allowed to leave in free agency last winter, and the job was handed to Arraez in 2020.
Unfortunately, Arraez only played in 32 of the Twins 60 games this season as he battled ongoing knee soreness and sprained an ankle while rehabbing his knee in St. Paul. But when was on the field, Arraez still managed to put up solid numbers despite his injuries and a prolonged slump in the middle of the shortened season.
Arraez finished the season hitting .321/.364/.402, but across 77 plate appearances during the month of August, he managed a line of just .243/.299/.286. His hits included 14 singles and three doubles, and he struck-out 10 times compared to only 6 walks.
By the first week of September, Arraez was headed back to the injured list due to his knee issues. He returned to go 6-for-8 with four doubles over the last two games of the regular season, bringing his season batting average well over the .300 mark and bump his slugging percentage up a few notches.
In 2020, Arraez clearly had some of the pop in his bat sapped by his knee and lower leg issues; it seemed as though he was consistently wincing and limping after foul balls and swings and misses. On the one hand, that makes his dip in effectiveness less concerning, but on the other, there’s reason for concern that some of the health issues could be an issue long term.
Even still, Arraez’s 111 wRC+ (Weighted Runs Created Plus) was third on the team among players who appeared in at least half of the team’s games, behind only Nelson Cruz and Byron Buxton. Despite his overall dip in production, he was still a vital cog in what was ultimately an extremely average offense.
Arraez was better defensively this year than he was a rookie. A portion of that can be attributed to the ability to focus on one position — just last year, Arraez started 18 games in left field, 15 at third base, and three at shortstop. Also, as we saw with Jorge Polanco in his season review, the Twins’ defensive shifts undoubtedly helped their middle infielders’ fielding metrics in an abbreviated season.
Despite a weird season and some of the nagging injuries that have pledged Arraez, we are inching closer to a full season’s worth of at-bats across his age-22 and age-23 seasons, and it’s quite good. In 487 plate appearances across 124 major-league games, Arraez has slashed .331/.390/.429 with roughly league-average defense at second base. That’s a clearly above-average player with plenty of upside still remaining.
Put simply, if he can find a way to fix some of the troubling knee issues moving forward, Luis Arraez will be the Twins second baseman for years to come, and it would be a shock if there wasn’t an All-Star appearance (or two, or three, or more) in his near future.
How would you grade Luis Arraez’ 2020 season?
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