'It feels close': Arraez on brink of hitting history

Twins infielder enters finale with 4-point lead over Judge in AL batting title race

October 5th, 2022

CHICAGO -- Luis Arraez can see the finish line.

Sure, he's set to limp across that finish line at decidedly less than 100 percent as he nurses tightness and pain in his left hamstring, but the end is in sight, nonetheless. And the prize that lies on the other side is one that he's dreamt of his entire life: His first career batting title.

Arraez went 1-for-4 with a third-inning single during the Twins' 8-3 loss to the White Sox on Tuesday night at Guaranteed Rate Field, leaving his average at an American League-leading .315 with one game to play. His opponent, Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, set a new AL record with his 62nd homer of the season as part of a doubleheader in Texas, but he was pulled from the nightcap following the historic blast with his average at .311.

It'll all come down to the final day of the regular season on Wednesday afternoon.

"[It feels] quite close, yes," Arraez said. "Quite close. We're just waiting for tomorrow, and I'll go out there and enjoy it. I'll go out there and enjoy it, and give it my 100 percent at the plate and try to do my best."

The greater question appears to be if Judge will play in the regular-season finale or rest for the Yanks' upcoming playoff run, now that his AL home run record is secure. If Judge isn't in the lineup, he'll forgo the opportunity to chase the batting title -- and, thus, the chance for only the second hitting triple crown in AL/NL history since 1968.

If Judge sits, Arraez's batting title will be secure -- as Arraez would need to go 0-for-8 to fall below Judge in average. Even if Judge does play, he'd need a Herculean effort to push for the crown, as shown here:

  • If Arraez goes 0-for-4, Judge needs to go 3-for-4 to win
  • If Arraez goes 1-for-4, Judge needs to go 4-for-4 to win
  • If Arraez goes 2-for-4, Judge needs to go 5-for-5 to win

Arraez’s status appears to be less uncertain.

Arraez was held out of the lineup on both Sunday and Monday due to a worsening in the condition of the hamstring that has been bothering him throughout the second half. Though he was clearly hobbling around as he played on Tuesday -- only at 70 or 80 percent of full health by his estimate -- the infielder remained firm in his resolution to finish out the season and his push for the batting crown.

Twins manager Rocco Baldelli indicated that Arraez will get that opportunity, pending one more evaluation of the hamstring on Wednesday morning.

"Anyone that wants to watch a baseball game and watch a guy competing for a batting title right now, and also watch a guy grind through the types of injuries that Major League Baseball players do play through at times -- and it’s not easy to do -- if you want to watch all of that, you can tune in tomorrow," Baldelli said following Tuesday’s loss. "I anticipate him being in the lineup tomorrow.”

"I'll go up there and enjoy my last game," Arraez said. "I just want to finish strong."