MLB tendencies: Guardians’ José Ramírez flirting with 162 RBI; Twins’ Luis Arraez is league’s greatest contact hitter

The 2022 MLB common season is greater than two months previous and the contenders are separating themselves from the pretenders. A number of groups that began out sizzling are coming again to Earth (just like the Angels) and others that began slowly are climbing the standings (just like the Braves). That stated, there’s nonetheless loads — a LOT — of season to be performed.  

With that in thoughts, our weekly collection breaking down numerous tendencies throughout the league continues Wednesday with a take a look at two excessive contact hitters on historic paces, and the league-wide strikeout charge. Final week we checked out Sandy Alcantara’s dominant run, Ian Happ’s improved contact means, and the Yankees shutting down the operating sport.

The unequalled Ramírez


Guardians third baseman José Ramírez has been top-of-the-line all-around gamers in baseball for the higher a part of a decade now, and he could be having his best season in 2022. Nonetheless simply 29, Ramírez owns a .303/.393/.636 batting line and he is pushed in 62 runs in Cleveland’s 63 video games. He has an opportunity to turn out to be solely the sixth participant within the final 75 years (and solely the third participant within the final 72 years) to complete a season with extra RBI than workforce video games. The final 5 to do it:

  • Manny Ramirez, 1999 Cleveland: 165 RBI in 162 workforce video games
  • Jeff Bagwell, 1994 Astros: 116 RBI in 115 workforce video games (strike-shortened season)
  • Vern Stephens, 1949 Pink Sox: 159 RBI in 155 workforce video games
  • Ted Williams, 1949 Pink Sox: 159 RBI in 155 workforce video games
  • Joe DiMaggio, 1948 Yankees: 155 RBI in 154 workforce video games

“They’re so completely different,” Guardians supervisor Terry Francona informed the Medina Gazette when requested to match José Ramírez to Manny Ramirez, one among his former gamers. “I used to snort, as a result of Manny within the batter’s field, boy, look out. However when he left the batter’s field, look out. Josey is a premier participant all over the place on the sphere. He impacts the sport all over the place. When you’re speaking about Josey in these comparisons, that is a fairly large praise, most likely to each guys.”  

Ramírez combines energy hitter manufacturing with contact hitter, nicely, contact means. He is struck out in solely 7.5 % of his plate appearances, the second lowest charge in baseball amongst certified hitters (teammate Steven Kwan is at 7.0 %), and his 4.8 % swinging strike charge is the fifth lowest in baseball. Few gamers swing and miss this occasionally, and even fewer do it whereas hitting for this a lot energy. It is a uncommon mixture of expertise.

My favourite enjoyable truth of the season: Ramírez has extra residence runs (12) than swings and misses (8) on fastballs within the strike zone. Rafael Devers, one other energy hitter with a greater than common strikeout charge (17.1 %), has 11 homers on fastballs within the zone, however has swung and missed 65 occasions. Ramírez’s mix of contact and energy is really in a category of its personal.

The Guardians have gained 16 of their final 20 video games, together with a 6-5 Eleventh-inning victory over the host Twins on Tuesday that put then right into a digital tie with Minnesota within the AL Central. (The 2 groups will play 5 video games at Progressive Discipline subsequent week.) Cleveland may be very a lot within the division combine, and if that does not work out, they’re in place to contend for a wild card spot. Ramírez is greater than an MVP candidate. He is a unicorn, the uncommon participant who gives trendy energy with early old-school contact charges.

Arraez chasing obscure historical past


Just like Ramírez, Twins infielder Luis Arraez is among the nice contact hitters in baseball at this time. His strikeout (8.3 %) and swinging strike (3.3 %) charges are proper there with Ramírez, although Arraez would not hit for almost as a lot energy. Ramírez has 16 residence runs. Arraez has 12 extra-base hits complete (eight doubles and 4 homers). 

There’s nothing fallacious with the dearth of energy, after all. Arraez owns a .362/.442/.457 batting line and leads baseball in batting common and on-base share. He and Ramírez are two of the seven certified hitters with extra walks than strikeouts this season:

Arraez’s excessive contact/low energy method provides him an opportunity to complete the yr with a better on-base share than slugging share. Actually, earlier than going 2 for five with a double and a homer Tuesday, Arraez had a .443 OBP and a .439 SLG. Nearly three months into the season and he nonetheless had a better on-base share than slugging share.

The OBP > SLG season is hardly unprecedented, although it would not occur almost as usually because it as soon as did, and it hardly ever occurs when the participant slugs over .400. Solely 5 occasions for the reason that mound was lowered in 1969 has a hitter with sufficient plate appearances to qualify for the batting title had an OBP > SLG season whereas slugging at the very least .400. The record:

Nick Johnson, 2009 Nationals and Marlins



Mike Hargrove, 1981 Cleveland



Mike Hargrove, 1980 Cleveland



Willie Randolph, 1980 Yankees



Gene Tenace, 1977 Padres



No participant has had an OBP > SLG season with at the very least a .420 slugging share since Albie Pearson hit .288/.420/.400 with the enlargement Angels in 1961. No participant has executed it with at the very least a .430 slugging share since 1955, when Richie Ashburn hit .338/.449/.448 with the Phillies. Nonetheless a whole lot of season to be performed, however Arraez is inside placing distance.

Finally, the OBP > SLG season is a neat statistical quirk greater than historic. It is a testomony to a novel talent set and never rather more. For the Twins, crucial factor is Arraez is sparking one of many sport’s highest scoring offenses together with his excessive contact and on-base profile. The Twins have already got loads of energy due to Byron Buxton and Carlos Correa, amongst others. It is on Arraez to set the desk for these guys, and he is executed a spectacular job to this point.

MLB’s strikeout charge is plateauing

Main League Baseball is on observe to do one thing this season that hasn’t occurred since 2005: the league strikeout charge will go down from one season to the following. The MLB strikeout charge went from 16.9 % in 2004 to 16.4 % in 2005, and it has elevated in each 162-game season since (we will ignore the quick and strange pandemic season in 2020).

Final season MLB hitters struck out in 23.2 % of their plate appearances. This yr it is down a full share level to 22.2 %. That decline is attributable virtually fully to the common DH. Pitchers are terrible hitters and so they struck out in 44.2 % of their plate appearances in 2021. The remainder of the league — the precise hitters — struck out 22.6 % of the time.

Listed below are the league-wide strikeout and swinging strike charges for non-pitchers over the past 10 full seasons (so ignoring 2020):































Even eradicating pitchers, there was a gentle improve in strikeout charge and swinging strike charge over the past decade. This yr although, it stopped, and each charges have kind of plateaued. Strikeouts and swinging strikes are at roughly the identical degree this season as 2019. Not is the strikeout charge exploding. It appears to have hit a ceiling, even when solely briefly.

MLB needs to cut back strikeouts — the logic behind deadening the ball is making residence runs tougher to hit and forcing hitters to concentrate on contact, although that adjustment will not occur in a single day — and step one in decreasing the strikeout charge is stopping it from growing. That seems to have occurred. Now that the strikeout charge improve has been halted, MLB can work on reversing the development.

There are completely occasions when a strikeout is thrilling. Your favourite workforce’s stud nearer placing out the opposite workforce’s greatest hitter with males on base to nail down a win, and many others. That sort of factor. The issue is these thrilling strikeouts are outnumbered by these “eight of the final 12 batters have struck out” stretches in decrease leverage conditions. There’s too many lengthy stretches with out a ball in a play and it is damaging for the game, and kudos to MLB for making an attempt to repair it. The common DH is one step. Cracking down on overseas substances is one other. There’s nonetheless work to be executed, however at the very least now we’re seeing indicators of progress.

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