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Twins’ MLB batting leader Luis Arraez not focused on batting title

“I know I’m hitting .300, but if I hit .300 and my team loses, I don’t feel happy,” Arraez said. “I want to do something for my teammates and help win a game.”

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Minnesota Twins
Minnesota's Luis Arraez smacks a hit against the Baltimore Orioles at Target Field on July 1, 2022. Arraez continues to lead the major leagues in batting this season.
Jeffrey Becker / USA Today Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Luis Arraez woke up on Tuesday as baseball’s leading hitter, which he has been most of the season. After going 1 for 4 with a run scored in Monday’s 4-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals, Arraez is hitting .332, a few hits better than St. Louis infielder Paul Goldschmidt (.328).

With the season winding down — the Minnesota Twins have 47 games remaining after Tuesday’s rematch against the Royals — Arraez was asked how much he’s paying attention to the batting race.

“Not too much,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of stuff on Instagram; there’s like a million (posts about it). But I just want to stay focused on what I can do for the team.”

The Twins (59-55) entered Tuesday’s game two games behind first-place Cleveland (62-54) in an American League Central race they had led for most of the season.

“I know I’m hitting .300, but if I hit .300 and my team loses, I don’t feel happy,” Arraez said. “I want to do something for my teammates and help win a game.”

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Four players have won a combined 14 AL batting titles as a Twin: Tony Oliva (3), Rod Carew (7), Kirby Puckett (1) and Joe Mauer (3). The first three of those players are in the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, N.Y. The highest batting average among them was Mauer’s .365 in 2009, when he won the AL MVP Award.

That was the Twins’ last batting title, though former Twins Michael Cuddyer (2013) and Justin Morneau (2014) won NL batting titles with the Colorado Rockies.

luisarraezmug.JPG
Luis Arraez

Because slumps and injuries happen during a season, batting races don’t tend to get a ton of attention until the waning days of September, when any at-bat can make a difference between winning the title or finishing second.

Will Arraez pay more attention then?

“A hundred percent if I win the batting title,” he said. “I mean, that’s big for me. That’s one of my goals. But right now, I pay attention to what I can do for my teammates.”

MLB BATTING LEADERS:

Through Monday among players with at least 339 plate appearances:

Luis Arraez, TWINS -- .332

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Paul Goldschmidt, STL -- .328

Freddie Freeman, LAD -- .321

Jeff McNeil, NYM -- .315

Jose Iglesias, COL -- .314

Short hopper

Arraez and Jose Miranda, two of the Twins’ best hitters this season, didn’t take batting practice on Tuesday, instead using their time before the game against the Royals taking grounders from bench coach Jayce Tingler.

Tingler, a former infield coordinator for the Texas Rangers’ academy in the Dominican, sent sharp grounders to Arraez at second base and perfect short-hoppers to Miranda at first. In its way, it was as impressive as the fielding.

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Asked how long it took him learn how hit a short-hopper at will, Tingler joked, “I hit a lot of slow bouncers as a player.”

That’s not quite true. In four years as a minor-league player, Tingler, an all-Big 12 player at Missouri, amassed a .271 career average while advancing to Class AA. The real answer is practice.

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“I worked three years at the academy; we did a lot of fielding and fungo work,” he said.

Polanco sits

Twins RBI leader Jorge Polanco, who aggravated a knee while sliding home on Monday night, was out of the lineup on Tuesday.

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Jorge Polanco

Manager Rocco Baldelli said he didn’t have a full update on Polanco during his pregame media access but said he was confident it wouldn’t be a long-term absence.

“I haven’t heard one thing about what he’s dealing with that would lead to that,” Baldelli said. “I think we’re just in a spot right now where we’re going to treat him, take care of any swelling and soreness, ice and rest, and I think he’s going to be OK.”

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