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Miami Marlins second baseman Luis Arraez (3) connects to go five for five in the seventh inning during the game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Miami Marlins on Monday, June 19, 2023 at LoanDepot Part in Miami, Fla.
Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Let it be known that on this day, June 20 in the year 2023, Marlins infielder Luis Arráez has officially been put on .400 Watch. From this day forward you will be expected to check Arráez's batting average within two hours of waking up in the morning, you will be required to seek out highlights of every multi-hit game he has, and you must say to an acquaintance, "There's a guy who might hit .400 this year!" on no less than a biweekly basis. You will do these things, or suffer grave consequences.

I can hear your protestations now. But there's a whole complicated process to putting someone on .400 Watch! Oh, you think I am not aware of that? Would you like to explain it to me? Did you even consult the ancient scrolls? The scrolls are in my house right now, and I read them every night. What did the council of elders say about this? They were swayed, quite easily, by the evidence I provided.

For example, on Monday night Arráez went five-for-five at the plate, raising his batting average to an even .400 and becoming the first player since 1984 to have three five-hit games in the same month. Two of those five-hit games came over the long weekend, and on Monday Arráez also became the first player to reach 100 hits this season.

Have you seen this guy's Baseball Savant page? It's so dumb. He hits the ball just about as softly as you possibly can, but never ever ever swings and misses. His strikeout rate is a microscopic 5.3 percent, and his whiff rate is an even more fake-seeming 7.1 percent. He currently has as many doubles (15) as he does strikeouts. He has swung at a pitch and missed just 25 times all season. He has barreled up a pitch just five times. If I had to choose between attempting to throw a baseball through a brick wall or past Arráez's bat, I might seriously consider the brick wall because the experience would probably be less frustrating.

And now Arráez is on .400 Watch. He is 67 games into the season, which puts him in elite historical company. George Brett carried his .400 batting average through 134 games in 1980, and since then only a handful of players have touched .400 later into the season than Arráez has now. Scan that list and you'll see a lot of standout seasons from the steroid and juiced-ball era—Nomar Garciaparra hitting .372 in 2000, Tony Gwynn reaching .394 in 1994, Larry Walker finishing at .366 in 1997, and so on.

The difference between what Arráez is doing now and what those guys did some 30 years ago, and what makes his flirtation with .400 so much more impressive, comes down to the shape of today's game. Tony Gwynn was one of the best hitters to ever pick up a bat, but he also played in an era in which pitchers still threw to contact and a 95 mph fastball was considered to be a top-line heater. In 1997, the year that Gwynn hit .394, 49 other players finished the season with a batting average of at least .300. Seven of those guys hit above .340. Baseball is almost a different sport now: Aside from Arráez, there are just 12 MLB players currently hitting .300 or better. The player with the next-highest batting average after Arráez is Ronald Acuña Jr., and he's hitting .325.

A guy like Luis Arráez isn't really supposed to have a place in modern baseball. Pitchers have been optimized to throw harder than ever and make missing bats a top priority; hitters have been optimized to swing hard, to live with strikeouts, to refine their launch angles, and turn as many pitches as possible into home runs. The three true outcomes reign supreme. Arráez is an anachronism, a player who refuses to bend to the demands of the current game and succeeds all the same. This is why he is formally being placed on .400 Watch. Alert the heralds.

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