Having played in 66 games this season for the Miami Marlins, Luis Arráez cruised into his 67th contest of the 2023 MLB season on Monday night and went 5-for-5 to raise his batting average to an even .400 on the year. With the performance, Arráez joined Dave Winfield, Ty Cobb and George Sisler as just the fourth player to have three 5-hit games in a calendar month since 1901. All three of the others are in the Hall of Fame.
For Arráez, who won the American League batting title last season with the Twins and was dealt from Minnesota to Miami during the offseason, flirting with .400 is nothing new. But 73 games into the 162-game season, Arráez is nearly halfway to accomplishing something that was last done when the United States only had 48 states and Queen Elizabeth II was still a princess.
With his .400 average at this point in the year, Arráez is tied for the ninth-highest average by a qualified hitter in his team’s first 73 games with Chipper Jones. Ahead of Arráez on the 73-game list are Rod Carew (.404 in 1983), Tommy Holmes (.404 in 1945), John Olerud (.405 in 1993), Carew (.407 in 1977), Tony Fernández (.410 in 1999), Stan Musial (.411 in 1948), Larry Walker (.415 in 1997) and Andrés Galarraga (.420 in 1993).
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One of the players on that list, Olerud, actually improved on his average through 73 games and was able to make it all the way to game 107 on August 2nd of the ’93 season with an average of at least .400. Olerud, who ended up finishing with a .363 average to win the batting title, came the closest to matching what Ted Williams was able to accomplish in 1941 when he finished the season with a .406 average.
Arráez, who has gone 11-for-14 since he had a hitless streak reach a season-high 15 at-bats in Seattle on Wednesday, still has a long way to go to catch or match Williams, but there should be at least a little optimism that he’ll be able to do it considering how he’s batted thus far.
“I try to make strong contact, but I don’t worry about home runs,” Arráez said of his approach, according to The Wall Street Journal. “I like to look at the defense and then form my plan on where I want to hit it. I focus on putting the ball in play. I know my strengths and I know I am not a home run hitter.”
He’s right about that as Arráez has just two home runs on the season. At 42-31, the second-place Marlins don’t mind.