Arraez collects 1st cycle in Marlins history: 'This guy can hit!'

April 12th, 2023

PHILADELPHIA -- During their 30-year existence, the Marlins have captured two World Series championships and have thrown six no-hitters. But never had a batter hit for the cycle.

That moment finally came courtesy of newcomer in the 4,700th game in franchise history in Tuesday night’s 8-4 victory over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

Arraez did what he does best, spraying the ball all over the field. He doubled to right-center in the first against Aaron Nola, lined out to center in the third, tripled to right in the sixth and homered to left against Connor Brogdon in the seventh. Prior to his eighth-inning at-bat, Philadelphia held a mound visit with runners at the corners and two outs. After falling behind in the count 2-1, former Marlin Andrew Bellatti threw a changeup down and away that Arraez laced to left field.

As the 2022 American League batting champion, Arraez singled 133 times -- second most in the Majors behind Cleveland’s Amed Rosario (134). As a child growing up in San Felipe, Venezuela, Arraez’s father always told him many hits could be found in left field. You’d be hard-pressed to consider any of the previous ones more meaningful than this.

“[I was thinking] a lot of things, but just focus, and I just want one pitch outside and hit the ball to left field,” said Arraez, who had never hit for the cycle in his life. “He threw a changeup middle down, and then I hit the ball to left field and I was excited when I hit it.”

First-base coach Jon Jay, a Miami native who grew up a Marlins fan, greeted Arraez with an enthusiastic two-handed high five. In the middle of the inning, his teammates took turns giving him hugs.

Miami acquired Arraez in a trade with Minnesota on Jan. 20, and he has come as advertised. The 26-year-old second baseman leads the Majors in average (.537) and on-base percentage (.596) through 12 games.

“Kind of what we preach is being a good hitter and not just [a] power [hitter]," manager Skip Schumaker said. "And he's showing guys [how to use] the whole field and what the preparation looks like [to do that], and just being a good hitter, grinding out at-bats. Never takes a pitch off. Just the whole mentality of day-in and day-out defensively, as well. It's just been an incredible pickup.”

“Obviously, has a great reputation,” general manager Kim Ng said over the weekend. “When you look at a player that young, and batting average I know is not necessarily -- [you] want a lot more modern statistics -- but nonetheless when you look at what he's done year after year, three of his four years in the big leagues, he hit over .290. Won the hitting title last year. You have a great appreciation for what that means, especially in today's game. And when you watch it, these are not bloop hits. These are hard-hit balls, barrels that ball a large percentage of the time. He's a pretty impressive kid.”

Until Tuesday, there had been 111 cycles in MLB since the Marlins debuted 30 years ago. Former Marlins Christian Yelich (2018), Mark Kotsay (‘08), Randy Winn (‘05) and Greg Colbrunn (‘02) went on to hit for the cycle for other clubs. Every other active franchise had at least two. The Marlins’ inability to achieve the feat sooner is remarkable considering the spacious ballparks they’ve called home since 1993.

Juan Pierre, one of the most beloved players in franchise history, helped out as a guest instructor a few times this spring. Pierre, who led the Majors in hits during his second season with the Marlins in 2004, one morning wondered whether this day might come. Arraez’s name came up as a possibility.

“I just remember my first thought watching him take batting practice I was like, ‘This guy can hit!!’” Pierre texted to “He was just spraying the ball around the whole field, not trying to hit home runs. Then I saw his cage work, and he does the same thing. Every day has a good routine, and there is a reason he’s a batting champ. He works!!”

Not only did Arraez make Marlins history, but he also joined exclusive company by becoming the sixth Venezuelan to hit for the cycle:

Eduardo Escobar, Mets, June 6, 2022
Pablo Sandoval, Giants, Sept. 15, 2011
Carlos González, Rockies, July 31, 2010
Carlos Guillén, Tigers, Aug. 1, 2006
César Tovar, Twins, Sept. 19, 1972

Postgame, Arraez spoke to the team after everyone took a shot of champagne. He has much to celebrate these days. On Arraez’s 26th birthday this past Sunday, his wife told him they are expecting their third child.

“A special day. It was a regular day, because we play baseball,” Arraez said of Tuesday’s accomplishment. “It's a beautiful sport for me, and I think for everybody that plays baseball. I just come here to play baseball, and then try to do my best and then help the team win.”