No Major League Baseball player has hit .400 since Ted Williams, the legendary Boston Red Sox slugger who finished the 1941 season with a .406 batting average. Miami Marlins second baseman Luis Arráez will enter Friday’s game against the Chicago White Sox with a .403 batting average.
And his pursuit of .400 has gotten the attention of another legendary hitter, Rod Carew.
Only a few players since Williams have had a serious chance at a .400 season. One of those men was Carew, who hit .388 with the Minnesota Twins in 1977 and was hitting .401 at the end of play on July 10 that year.
On Thursday night, Carew took to Twitter to praise Arráez for what he’s done this year. Carew was particularly proud of Arráez’s approach, noting that baseball has gotten more power-dependent over the years.
“What @Arraez_21 is doing, whether he ends the season above .400 or not, is very impressive,” Carew tweeted. “The pressure to swing for then fences and not care about strikeouts is overwhelming . He is doing what he does best and at an ELITE level. Other players should take note.”
What @Arraez_21 is doing, whether he ends the season above .400 or not, is very impressive. The pressure to swing for then fences and not care about strikeouts is overwhelming . He is doing what he does best and at an ELITE level. Other players should take note
— Rod Carew (@RodCarew_29) June 8, 2023
Carew’s comments were well received.
— Judge Bob Orr (@JudgeBobOrr) June 9, 2023
Watching him at the plate just makes me happy. Even if he’s not on my team anymore. As I always say, if he didn’t swing it wasn’t a strike.
— commissioner shayla (blue check) (@shaylarz) June 8, 2023
Says the GOAT https://t.co/Cbok0tl4HT
— My Name's Jeff (@JeffTweet68) June 9, 2023
Game recognizes game! https://t.co/kfIg2UMX9M
— Dallas Braden (@DALLASBRADEN209) June 9, 2023
So, how does what Arráez has accomplished this season stack up to where Carew was at the same time of the year in 1977?
Actually, quite well.
Entering play on June 9, 1977, Carew had a .381/.438/.577 slash line with 242 plate appearances and 215 at-bats. Heading into play on the same date in 2023, Arráez is slashing at .403/.452/.495 in 239 plate appearances and 206 at-bats.
As the slugging percentages will attest, Carew was a more dangerous power threat. He had four homers and 26 extra-base hits while Arráez has only one home run and 17 extra-base hits. That said, Arráez is actually harder to strike out, and just when adjusting for the norms of their respective eras. Carew had 23 strikeouts through June 8, 1977, while Arráez has only 11 through June 8, 2023.
Arráez has a long way to go, but he can have a great season and still finish short of .400 and what Carew did in 1977. He has an even longer way to go to have the kind of career that Carew, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, enjoyed.
But in comparing their respective pursuits of .400 to this point of the year, Arráez holds up quite well to Carew.