During the MLB offseason, the Miami Marlins traded for Luis Arraez, sending Pablo Lopez and two prospects to the Minnesota Twins. The Marlins needed to add some offense, as they have routinely been at the bottom of the league in runs scored for much of the past half-decade. Despite being elite in one fantasy baseball category, what do we make of Arraez for the 2023 fantasy baseball season in his new confines? Following a fantasy baseball breakout 2022 season, is Arraez set up to be a fantasy baseball bust in 2023? We’ll take a look at some key numbers from Arraez’s 2022 season and career as a whole, and examine his fantasy baseball outlook in his new digs to determine if Arraez should be a priority in our fantasy baseball drafts.
First and foremost, before we start nitpicking Arraez, let’s celebrate his 2022 season. In 144 games played, he hit eight home runs, stole four bases, and scored 88 runs while slugging 31 doubles. However, his .316 average won him the American League batting title, and amongst qualified hitters, he had the highest contact rate (94.1%), lowest swinging strike rate (2.5%), and lowest strikeout rate (7.1%). Arraez’s elite bat-to-ball ability is unparalleled in this generation’s game, and the quantity of his contact is exceptional at the game’s highest level. Just to hammer the point home a bit more:
- His 7.1 K% was tied for the sixth-lowest dating back to 2015
- His 94.1 percent contact rate was the highest mark since Marco Scutaro in 2013 (95.7%)
While the marks he posted last year were exceptional, they shouldn’t necessarily be considered outliers, because Arraez has been this guy for pretty much his entire career.
In 2023, Arraez will continue to be elite in terms of delivering the bat to the ball, and the quantity of his contact will remain sky high. However, the quality of his contact is where the concerns lie. Aside from 2020, his average exit velocity has been below the 50th percentile each of the past three seasons, his barrel rate has been below the 12th percentile in each of the past three seasons, and his max exit velocity has never eclipsed the 35th percentile. Power is not his game, and while he can run into a ball every now and again, last year’s eight home runs were a career best, and prior to last season, he had six home runs in 245 career games in the MLB.
For his career, his .822 home OPS bests his .748 OPS on the road. In 2022, once again, his home OPS (.837) outshined his road OPS (.753). So, with that in mind, should we be concerned about him heading to Miami? Miami may have a reputation of a pitcher’s park, but for left-handed hitters in particular, it’s actually slightly above average for lefties. However, the difference is negligible, and when looking at his 2022 spray chart on top of his new friendly confines, he may stand to gain a homer or two.
The next question I have is will Arraez run in 2023? Skip Schumacher has never managed before in the majors, so will he run a lot, or at least as much Don Mattingly did? Looking at the Miami offense, Schumacher may need to get creative on the base paths. However, Arraez isn’t overly fast, and has only a 50 percent success rate on the base paths for his career. Be careful anticipating a big jump in steals for him this season.
Arraez’s biggest fantasy contribution comes from his batting average, and his 88 runs last year also were a nice boost to fantasy managers. Can he get to 88 runs scored again, or higher, hitting atop the Miami lineup? Ultimately, the answer to that question is predicated on how much you believe in this team’s offense. Minnesota was league average in terms of total run production, whereas Miami ranked third-worst. Using the projections here at Fantasy Alarm, here is what we glean from the Miami offense:
- Only one player projected with 70+ RBI
- Only three players projected with a .750+ OPS
Last year in Minnesota, while the team didn’t have a player with over 70 RBI, they had six hitters who played at least 90 games, excluding Arraez, post a .750+ OPS. I’m not saying it cannot be done, but it may be foolish penciling Arraez in for 85+ runs automatically.
Our projections here at Fantasy Alarm spit out the following for Arraez in 2023: .290/.354/.365, 3 HR, 74 R, 57 RBI, 2 SB
I’d tack a few more home runs onto that, and maybe a few stolen bases, but it looks fine otherwise. While he’s elite in batting average, he isn’t going to be overly helpful in any other category, unless Schumacher has Miami running rampant. Be careful pushing him up too high in drafts, but if you take on some batting average liabilities early on in the draft, Arraez can help stabilize your team’s batting average.