Flirting with .400, Miami's Arraez getting due as elite MLB hitter
The calendar has turned to June and Miami's Luis Arraez is flirting with a .400 batting average.
Considering the last man to hit that hallowed number for a full season — Boston's Ted Williams — accomplished the feat in 1941 with a .406 average, it's safe to say that Arraez is an extreme long shot to hit the mark.
But it also might be a mistake to completely rule him out. He had a .392 average after Sunday's games, going 5 for 5 on Saturday and 2 for 4 on Sunday.
Arraez — last year's American League batting champion — has quietly established himself as one of the game's elite when it comes to simply getting base hits. The 2022 All-Star selection now has a career batting average of .324 in approximately 1,800 career plate appearances. Jabeur
It takes 3,000 career plate appearances to make the batting average leaderboard over at baseball-reference.com. But when the 26-year-old is eligible to enter the list, he could be among some very, very impressive names.
Among the Hall of Famers around the .324 mark: Wade Boggs (.327), Rod Carew (.327), Joe DiMaggio (.325), Kirby Puckett (.318) and Roberto Clemente (.317).
Arraez's base-hit prowess is all the more impressive considering hitting for average is considered passé in today's game. The average MLB hitter is batting .248 this season, compared to .262 when Williams accomplished his .406 average back in 1941.
EYES ON THE BALL
In an encouraging development for MLB, attendance is up for 23 of 30 teams when compared to the same point last season, through Saturday's games.
There are 17 teams on pace to average 1,000 fans more per game than in 2022, led by the Philadelphia Phillies, who are pulling in nearly 12,000 more fans per game than at this time last season.
Other big winners include the Blue Jays (plus-6,825), Yankees (plus-5,549) and Guardians (plus-5,251). A handful of teams have seen a big drop, led by the White Sox (minus-5,432), Giants (minus-3,054) and Rockies (minus-2,399).
As a whole, MLB is averaging nearly 2,000 more fans per game than at the same time last season. If the trends hold, baseball will eclipse its pre-pandemic levels and could pull 70 million total fans for the first time since 2017.
MLB's attendance hit a high-water mark of a 32,696 average back in 2007 with a slow slide for the next dozen years. The COVID-19 pandemic kept fans away in 2020 and severely affected 2021.
There have been a handful of valiant efforts to reach .400 over the past 80-plus years. Who are the top four to come the closest since 1941?
The Texas Rangers have turned up the offense and now have the second-best record in the American League at 38-20.
The Rangers bludgeoned the Mariners' pitching staff over the past weekend, scoring 16 runs on Saturday and 12 more on Sunday to cap a three-game sweep. Texas has scored at least 10 runs in six of its past 14 games.
The Rangers' deep lineup got off to a fairly slow start in April, but had a jump in production in May, batting .286 with a .798 OPS. Second baseman Marcus Semien had a 23-game hitting streak through Sunday's games and is batting .303 with nine homers and 47 RBIs.
Texas is also getting some solid pitching with a rotation that includes Nathan Eovaldi, Jon Gray, Martín Pérez and Andrew Heaney.
The St. Louis Cardinals looked as though they might have righted their ship with better baseball in late May.
But after getting swept by the Pirates over the weekend, that improvement might have been a mirage.
The Cardinals fell to 25-35 on Sunday, which is the worst mark in the National League. Things won't get any easier this week — the Cardinals have a three-game series against the surging Rangers starting Monday.
Tony Gwynn finished with a .394 average in the strike-shortened 1994 season. George Brett hit .390 in 1980. Williams hit .388 in 1957, while Carew also hit .388 in 1977.
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