Twins’ Luis Arraez wins American League batting title
The infielder joined an exclusive club Wednesday, becoming the fifth Twins player to win an American League batting title, joining Rod Carew (seven times), Joe Mauer (three), Tony Oliva (three) and
CHICAGO — A large saffron box with the words “Louis Vuitton” imprinted on it sat partially hidden underneath a small table in the Minnesota Twins’ clubhouse before their final game of the season on Wednesday afternoon. In it, a gift from Carlos Correa to Luis Arraez that the shortstop joked was going right back to the store if Arraez didn’t lock up the American League batting title on the season’s final day, a 10-1 win over the Chicago White Sox.
Arraez made sure there was no need to return the gift.
After leading the AL in hitting for most of the season, Arraez ended his year hitting .316 after going 1-for-1 with a double and a pair of walks on Wednesday in Chicago. The next closest player, Aaron Judge, did not play on the final day of the season, finishing at .311, and falling just short of winning the first Triple Crown since 2012.
The infielder joined an exclusive club Wednesday, becoming the fifth Twins player to win an American League batting title, joining Rod Carew (seven times), Joe Mauer (three), Tony Oliva (three) and Kirby Puckett.
Arraez was lifted for a pinch runner after his third-inning double and received some applause from the crowd, to which he responded by tipping his helmet. Correa was the first to greet him with a hug after he walked back to the dugout.
“Luis has gone out there at the top of our lineup for the most part and has had the kind of at-bats that it takes to win a batting title,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “… He’s done it without even being strong and healthy the whole way, but he finds a way on base, he finds a way to barrel the ball up and he gets a lot of hits.”
Though he dealt with lingering hamstring tightness throughout the second half of the season, Arraez stayed on the field all season, thanks in part to the work he put in during the offseason to keep his legs healthy. He would have avoided the IL entirely if not for a case of COVID-19 for the first time in his career.
Arraez played in a career-high 144 games, collecting 173 hits. And while his batting average slipped in the second half of the season — he went to his first All-Star Game with a major-league leading .338 batting average — his full body of work this season has left him with his name etched into the history books forever.
“It’s been truly special,” Correa said of watching Arraez’s season. “Watching him in spring training, his routine in the cage never changed throughout the whole year. Always the same guy. … We talked about being the same guy always, whether you’re 0-for-4 or 4-for-4, that’s something he’s done better than anybody I’ve seen.”
Though with the new American League batting champion, the 0-for-4 days were few and far between.
While he was hampered by hamstring tightness and the constant chatter of the batting race once the Twins fell out of contention could have caused a distraction, Arraez continued producing, finishing his season on a nine-game hitting streak.
Just months into the 25-year-old’s major league career, Guardians manager Terry Francona said he believed Arraez would one day win a batting title.
Wednesday, in his fourth major league season, he fulfilled that prediction.
“He’s capable of even more than what he did over the course of a full year, which I think is a promising thing to say for him and for our team, but we’ve been saying this about him since his first spring training,” Baldelli said. “Before he ever played a major league game, we were sitting around saying things like this and those are bold things. We know those are bold things to say about any young player but he’s showing who he is.”
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