Throughout the season the CBS Sports MLB experts will bring you a weekly Batting Around roundtable breaking down pretty much anything. The latest news, a historical question, thoughts about the future of baseball, all sorts of stuff.. Now we're going to take the game's best hitter for average.
What will Luis Arraez's batting average be at the end of the season?
R.J. Anderson: Even if he ends up falling short, I hope he sticks around .390 or better until deep in the year. It's been a long time since we had a compelling pursuit of .400, and it would be a fun storyline to track this summer. Most projection systems have Arraez batting around .310-.320 from this point forward. Without doing the math, I think that would put him around .350 on the year. I'll stay optimistic and say .380 -- or, just enough for him to have the highest average among qualified batters since 1999.
Dayn Perry: Yeah, I'd really love for him to make a serious run at it, as they could make for an excellent stretch-drive subplot. Unfortunately, I'm not optimistic. I just don't think he's going to continue running a BABIP of more than .400 and out-pacing his expected batting average to such an extent. I'll say he winds up with a 2023 batting average of .363. Again, I hope it's higher and that he makes a real run at .400, but I think the odds of that happening are pretty long.
Matt Snyder: It's incredibly improbable in today's day and age for anyone to hit .400 and a significant portion of that is how much better pitchers are these days than back when players actually hit .400 -- not to mention that once a starter gets tired, there's an assembly line of stud relievers instead of the batter getting to face a tired pitcher who is required to finish his games. If a player these days could ever come close, he'd have to have Arraez's profile. He isn't pull heavy (around 25 percent of his batted balls), goes up the middle often (over 50%) and goes the other way when need be. He's an excellent batsmith in that you'll often see him shorten up with two strikes and noticeably alter his swing to try and find a hole. He very rarely strikes out. With the shift limitations, all this stuff plays even better than it would've even last year. Being a left-handed hitter helps, too, given that most pitchers are righties.
Anyway, I'll answer the question now. I'll go with Arraez hitting .380. That would be the highest full-season average in the Wild Card era (Larry Walker hit .379 in 1999). Go get it done, Luis.
Mike Axisa: Before I give my answer, let's take a moment to admire Arraez's hit spray chart:
Beautiful. I don't believe Arraez will hit .400 simply because it's so hard to do -- go 1 for 3 and your batting average goes down, 2 for 5 and it doesn't move -- but I badly hope he makes a run at it. Even flirting with .390 would be a blast.
To answer the question, I'm going to say Arraez finishes with a .365 batting average, or thereabouts. To finish there, he'd need to hit roughly .342 the rest of the season, which is a) a huge step down from where Arraez is now, and b) outrageously good. No one has hit .342 in a season since Mookie Betts hit .346 in 2018. Arraez entered 2023 as a career .314 hitter. I think he winds up at .365 or so, a full season average no one has reached since Joe Mauer in 2009. Like I said though, I badly hope Arraez makes a run at .400. I think it would be more fun than Aaron Judge chasing 62 home runs last season.