Nightengale's Notebook: Heard of Luis Arráez? 'Old-school' Twins infielder is in line for a batting title

·27 min read

He's the greatest hitting show on Earth.

And no one is paying attention.

A throwback to Tony Gwynn, Rod Carew, Wade Boggs and Ichiro Suzuki.

In a year where the league batting average is .242, the lowest since 1968, with an on-base percentage of .311, there’s a man in baseball defying all of the odds.

The name is Luis Arráez, pronounced (ah-RISE).

He’s an infielder for the Minnesota Twins, playing wherever they need, all over the diamond.

He also was hitting a major-league leading .362 this week with a major-league leading .442 on-base percentage, bidding to become the first player to hit above .350 in a full season since Josh Hamilton in 2010.

The most stunning stat of all?

There were 55 players who received more All-Star votes than Arráez in the recently released voting totals, none, of course, with a batting average as high as his .346 through Saturday.  Arráez was fourth among American League first basemen, with his 307,0442 votes not even one-third of Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero’s total of 947,045.

“It’s funny, everybody complains about batting averages being down, and then someone is hitting .360,’’ Twins reliever Emilio Pagan told USA TODAY Sports, “and it’s like an afterthought. It’s a new era, everyone wants to see the homers, the slugging percentage through the roof, but he goes about it a little differently. He’s one of the best hitters in baseball and one of the most important guys on our roster.

“We need to see him at the All-Star Game. When you’re hitting .350, .360, you deserve to be there.’’

Luis Arraez celebrates after hitting a home run against Cleveland on June 21.
Luis Arraez celebrates after hitting a home run against Cleveland on June 21.

How can you have an All-Star Game without the best pure hitter in baseball not invited?

“The guy is unbelievable,’’ Twins catcher/DH Gary Sanchez says. “When he’s having a bad day, he still gets two hits. I don’t know if people don’t talk about him because it’s the Twins, but they should. He’s one of the best hitters in the game.’’

Arráez had a .322 batting average through his first 300 career games, the fifth-highest mark since 1980. His 7.9% strikeout percentage was the third-lowest in baseball through Friday, with the league average at 22.2%. He has a 11.2% walk rate. His .881 OPS was 176 points higher than the league average. He is hitting .431 with runners in scoring position. He makes contact a stunning 92.2% of the time he swings the bat.

His artistry with the bat is so magnificent, able to spray the ball to all fields with ease, that teams had shifted only 3.6% of the time he’s at the plate, third-lowest among all left-handed hitters with at least 100 plate appearances.

“He’s been hitting like this his whole life,’’ Twins manager Rocco Baldelli says, recalling Arráez winning the 2016 Midwest League batting title at the age of 19 when he hit .347 at Class A Cedar Rapids. “He just rakes. It’s such a hard freaking game, but with him, he makes the pitchers make great pitchers over and over and over and over again, because he’ll just keep fouling them off. So, you either walk him, or throw a pitch over the middle of the plate.’’

He also happens to be one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet, absolutely beloved in the Twins clubhouse. When he had a chance to meet Ichiro Suzuki a week ago, he nearly passed out, having no idea that Ichiro even knew who he was. He still gets goosebumps when Detroit Tigers star Miguel Cabrera, who also is from Venezuela, talks to him or texts him. He is speechless being around Twins Hall of Famers Tony Oliva and Carew.

“I couldn’t believe Ichiro wanted to meet me,’’ said Arráez, 5-foot-10, 175 pounds. “It was amazing. I so excited, so happy.

“Thank God for the opportunity.’’

That’s Arráez, a hard-working, self-made player, married with 4- and 2-year-old daughters, who would love to be invited to the All-Star Game just to celebrate the occasion with his entire family.

“That would be so very special for me, and I work very hard for that,’’ said Arráez, who signed for $40,000 out of Venezuela in 2013. “I want to give that gift to my family, especially my daughters, Emma and Esther.’’

The entire Twins team is lobbying for Arráez’s first All-Star appearance.

“He’s such a great person, such a humble guy,’’ says Twins second baseman Jorge Polanco. “People have no idea what he does on and off the field. Just a great teammate and true professional.

“This guy needs to be on the All-Star team so everyone can get to know him. One day, I’m telling you, this guy might hit .400.’’

Arráez has been a hitting machine ever since he broke into the major leagues in 2019, hitting .334 in 92 games, prompting Cleveland Guardians manager Terry Francona to predict he would win a batting title. A few years later, fully healthy after spending seven weeks this past winter working on his strength and conditioning with former teammate Nelson Cruz, he has been indispensable to the Twins.

“I see him looking at the defense when he comes to the plate, assessing where guys are playing,’’ Detroit Tigers catcher Tucker Barnhart says. “It seems like a very novice concept, but there’s not a lot of guys who do it. He never tries to do too much with his ability to put the bat on the ball with balls and strikes.

“It makes it tough on you because he spoils a lot of really good pitches. We kind of joke as catchers that we should just throw the first pitch down the middle and hope he hits at somebody so you’re not wasting 10, 12 pitches trying to get him out.’’

You won’t find him hitting tape-measure home runs that light up Statcast. He had just 13 extra-base hits through Saturday, and has never had more than 25 in a single season.

“There’s not enough people that give him enough credit because what he’s doing is not sexy in a way,’’ Barnhart says. “But he’s an old-school ballplayer. That’s the biggest compliment I can give a guy. He’s just a special talent who’s as tough and out as anyone there is in the big leagues.’’

Let the big boys have their home runs and strikeouts. Arráez will take his base hits and walks and do all of the little things that helps a team win night after night.

“Everybody looks for home runs,’’ Arráez says, “but you know, that’s not me. I just hit line drives and try to get a lot of hits. I just want to get on base and score runs.’’

Oh, does he ever get on base. He has a career .385 on-base percentage. Gwynn had a career .388 on-base percentage. Carew was at .393. Ichiro finished with a .355 on-base percentage.

Yes, you’re talking about rarified air when it comes to sheer hitting prowess.

“When you want a balanced lineup,’’ Twins shortstop Carlos Correa says, “you’ve got to have guys like him. Every lineup needs a guy like that. We’re in a game right now when there’s a lot of homers and walks, but this guy gets on base 46% of the time. And it’s not just luck, he works and works at it, and makes it look so easy when he comes into a game.

“People talk about all of these different stats, but when you hit .360, I don’t care about any other stat, he should be an All-Star. When people see All-Star next to his name at the break, you’re going to see people start talking about him more.’’

Infielders Carlos Correa and Luis Arraez have been key for the Twins in their chase for a division title.
Infielders Carlos Correa and Luis Arraez have been key for the Twins in their chase for a division title.

Let’s be honest, if Arráez played in New York or Los Angeles, he’d be a cult hero.

The national attention for Arráez will come if the Twins keep winning. They lost 89 games a year ago, finishing 20 games out of first place, but entered the weekend tied with Cleveland for first place in the AL Central.

The Twins, who drastically turned over their roster during the winter, dumped Josh Donaldson who had become as embraced welcome in the clubhouse as a winter snowstorm in April, and signing Correa to a three-year, $105.3 million contract, find themselves as one of baseball’s biggest surprises.

“We turned a large portion of our roster over, becoming a completely different looking team,’’ Baldelli said, “and trusting the fact that we were going to bring in good players and good clubhouse guys. The guys we brought in, mixing in with the good players we had, couldn’t have come together any more smoothly, both on the field and personality-wise.

“We brought in guys that are freaking winners. They are here to win. That’s all they talk about. That’s all they think about it. There’s such good leadership in that clubhouse.’’

Correa, who signed a three-year, $105.3 million contract with two opt-out years with the Twins, is drawing much of the attention for the change of clubhouse direction. Sure, he can depart at the end of the season. No one has as much financially riding on this season where he can become the next $300 million player. Yet, there’s not a single person in the Twins clubhouse who doesn’t rave about Correa’s ability to connect with everyone, and constantly offering advice and guidance to his teammates.

“He’s amazing, just a very beautiful teammate, a special leader,’’ Arráez says. “He does so much for all of us.’’

Says Urshela: “He’s definitely our team leader. He knows so much about baseball, how to prepare guys for the situation, and always is trying to keep everyone’s confidence up. He does everything for us.’’

Correa is open to conversation with everyone, even opening up to his teammates about the infamous Houston Astros scandal, believing that plenty of other teams were cheating too, but acknowledged they took it too far.

“There are some things in his past that he wishes he could change,’’ says Pagan, acquired with starter Chris Paddack from the San Diego Padres on the eve of opening day. “Getting to know him now has been great. He’s just a tremendous human being. He’s been very instrumental about the success of this organization.’’

You would expect that this is a one-year deal in Minnesota for Correa, and that he’ll be departing the Twin Cities around the first snowfall, but Correa will also tell you that he has thoroughly enjoyed his time in Minnesota, and is more than willing to stay put.

“I love it here, I absolutely love it,’’ says Correa, “They know that. But my main focus is going out there and winning games for 3 ½ more months.

Certainly, Correa is doing everything he can to get the Twins back to the postseason, entering the weekend batting .363 with a .981 OPS since April 28, hitting the ball harder than he has in his career. He believes in this team, sees center fielder Byron Buxton, Royce Lewis and all of the young talent, and believes this team is going places.

“The raw talent that’s on this team motivated me to come here,’’ Correa says. “I feel I can help the guys understand the game and how to play championship- level baseball. I just want to help players get better and reach their potential. There’s a lot of young players here I can help.

"I want them all to get paid and make as much money as they can, and I’m here for them to understand just what it takes.

“When I drive to the ballpark every day, I drive with a smile on my face, knowing that not only am I going to go try to improve my skillset, but I’m also going to try to help others reach that potential they want to reach. You look at guys in our lineup, the first-rounders that are coming up, this team is going to be really good for a long time ago. People don’t know that yet, but just watch and see.

“When everything clicks, when we add a couple of pieces that we’re missing, we’re going to be in a great, great spot. It will feel better at the end of the year when we get to the playoffs.’’

To get there, a lot of things will need to go right, with all but one of their original starters going on the injured list this season, bullpen meltdowns, COVID setbacks and Buxton injury scares. They’ll need to get at least one starting pitcher at the trade deadline, some bullpen reinforcements, and, yes, a certain infielder to keep hitting .350 or so.

“I have a lot of confidence that Arráez is going to keep this up,’’ Correa says. “It’s not just luck out there. He has the same approach every single day, and makes it look easy.

“People will see it, soon. You win, you make the All-Star team, and everyone starts noticing.’’

Arráez hears the praise, listens to his teammates lobbying for his All-Star candidacy, and breaks into a slow grin.

“It feels so nice knowing how much people believe in me, and want me to do well,’’ Arráez says. “I would love to make the All-Star team. I would love to win the batting title. Most of all, I would just love to be back in the playoffs again.

“That’s what would mean the most to me. We win, everybody feels good, not just me.’’

From Moneyball to Vegas?

Steve Schott no longer owns the Oakland Athletics, but still watches their games, keeps rooting them on, and is disgusted what he sees.

The A’s are barely recognizable from the days he owned the club, earning four consecutive playoff berths and winning a record 20 games in a row that fueled the book and movie, “Moneyball,’’ during his 10-year regime.

These days, they have baseball’s worst record, 23-49, 22 games out of first place, and are playing in an empty ballpark night after night, drawing a major-league low 8,359 fans a game at the Oakland Coliseum.

“It’s sad to see, I’m sorry to see them go down the tubes like that,’’ Schott told USA TODAY Sports. “My God, we had some tough times, but nothing like this. It gives me shivers to see the sparse crowds.

“They sold off all of their good ballplayers, and they’re not giving their fans even a reason to go.’’

Schott, 83, just wrote a fascinating book about his life with San Francisco Chronicle baseball columnist John Shea: “Long Schott: Building Homes, Dreams and Baseball Teams."

Schott talks about growing up in in the Bay Area, purchasing the A’s in 1995 with Ken Hofmann, the push to contract the A’s and purchase the Angels with John Henry, and how the A’s wouldn’t be talking about moving to Las Vegas if only they were permitted to move to Santa Clara County.

It was the A’s, after all, who handed over the territorial rights to Santa Clara County and San Jose when the Giants were seeking a new ballpark and threatening to move to St. Petersburg, Fla. The Giants, in turn, refused to give back the rights, blocking the A’s move across the Bay.

“Santa Clara wanted us in the worst way,’’ Schott said, “but the commissioner [Bud Selig] wouldn’t let us move. Now, look at them. They may have to move to Las Vegas. It would be too bad for Oakland fans. They had the Raiders, the Warriors, they had it all.

“Now, they may be left with no sports team.’’

Schott, who sold the A’s in 2005, spent 2 ½ years chronicling his life in the book so that his grandchildren would know all about him. It was a wild 10-year run with the A’s, winning three division titles, and having the highest winning percentage of any A’s owner in franchise history, but always falling short in the postseason.

He was reticent with the media during his reign but he had overwhelming success building a franchise on a shoestring budget, led by executives Billy Beane and Paul DePodesta.

“It was really hell for a long time,’’ Schott said. “I just said I wasn’t going to lose my own money and wasn’t going to start spending money on guys who don’t produce.

“I thought I knew it all, but I didn’t spend any time with PR. I just told it the way it was. Really, I came here for one reason, and that was to keep the A’s in the Bay area.’’

Schott, who didn’t see a future with the A’s when they weren’t permitted to move across the Bay, resisted the temptation to contract the franchise, even with Henry’s offer to buy the Angels together. Henry wound up purchasing the Boston Red Sox while Schott got out of the baseball business.

“We had no real profit sharing with the rest of the league,’’ Schott said, “and it was hard to stay alive. The best thing for me was to sell because I couldn’t move to the South Bay."

Who would have envisioned that the largest contract in A’s history remains former third baseman Eric Chavez’s six-year, $66 million deal signed in 2004 and that the A’s would still be stuck in the decaying Coliseum?

“You look at it, and nothing has changed,’’ Schott says. “It’s just sad. I’m just sorry to see what has happened to the A’s. It hurts seeing it.’’

Two fans have the upper deck to themselves during a recent A's game at RingCentral Coliseum in Oakland.
Two fans have the upper deck to themselves during a recent A's game at RingCentral Coliseum in Oakland.

Around the basepaths

► The Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Angels are currently planning to conduct full managerial searches this winter and one name that keeps popping up in internal discussions is future Hall of Fame manager Bruce Bochy.

Bochy, 67, who splits his time between his homes in San Diego and Nashville, Tennessee, says he’s open to another managing job providing it’s the right opportunity and a potential contender.

Bochy, a three-time World Series champion, left the San Francisco Giants after the 2019 season but never ruled returning to the game.

Atlanta bench coach Walt Weiss also is expected to get strong consideration.

► Now that the New York Yankees avoided a potential ugly arbitration hearing with All-Star Aaron Judge, splitting the difference at $19 million with $250,000 bonuses for winning the AL MVP and the World Series MVP, there’s little doubt that he’ll wind up staying in New York.

While it certainly will cost more than the $213.5 million the Yankees offered before opening day, the Giants, New York Mets and Chicago Cubs or anyone else aren’t going to out-bid the Yankees.

Judge, 30, who’s having the finest season of his career leading MLB with 27 home runs, is expected to seek an eight-year deal for about $288 million. It would be the same $36 million annual salary that Mike Trout received in his 10-year, $360 million extension in 2019.

► The free-agent shortstop market will be insane once again this winter with an All-Star cast of Trea Turner, Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts, Dansby Swanson all potentially available.

Several talent evaluators predict that Turner, who’s from Florida, will return East and wind up signing with the Phillies, leaving Correa with the Dodgers or Cubs.

The Cubs made a late push to sign Correa after the lockout before he accepted his three-year, $105.3 million deal with the Twins that included two opt-outs.

►  Detroit Tigers manager A.J. Hinch, who’s in the second year of a five-year deal, doesn’t have a written opt-out clause in the language of his contract, but there’s a mutual understanding between Hinch and GM Alex Avila that provides him the option to leave if he grows weary of the Tigers’ rebuild.

“I’m here to hopefully build a winner, and plan on being here for a long time,’’ Hinch said. “I want to focus on building a better product on the field. I’m the manager of the Tigers. They signed me here for a long time.

“We just got to get better.’’

The Tigers, who spent $235.5 million in free agency last winter, and acquired outfielder Austin Meadows and catcher Tucker Barnhart in trades, plan to be active again in free agency this winter seeing offensive upgrades from third base to catcher to the corner outfield spots.

► Yes, it’s that time of year again.

Bobby Bonilla Day is Friday, July 1, where the Mets will cut him a check for $1,193,248.20, just as they have done since 2011, and will continue to do so through 2035.

While the day has become more momentous as the years pass, the only difference now is that the Mets and owner Steve Cohen have embraced it.

Bonilla has resisted the Mets’ efforts to have any sort of mini-parade, riding around the field and waving to fans, but there are plans to soon have fan contests to win a chance to watch a game with Bonilla and Mets’ officials on this date, celebrating the contract that just keeps on giving.

Stay tuned.

► The Yankees and Dodgers that brings out the ultimate best out of future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander, as the Yankees just witnessed once again Friday night with his brilliant performance.

The reason, friends say?

Verlander refuses to forget that when the Tigers informed him in the summer of 2017 that he would be traded, he provided a list of three teams that he would consider him waiving his no-trade clause:

The Dodgers, Yankees and Cubs.

Well, as the Tigers’ front office will tell you, all three teams passed on Verlander and never made a trade proposal.

The Astros were the lone team that made an offer.

Verlander’s greatness, even after Tommy John elbow surgery, has continued in Houston, going 9-2 with a 2.22 ERA this season.

The Dodgers will see him again soon.

He’ll be pitching, perhaps even starting, in the All-Star Game.

► The Dodgers are hoping to produce their own Ted Williams moment at the All-Star Game by inviting Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax to be on the field before their Midsummer Classic.

Koufax, who just attended his statue unveiling at Dodger Stadium last week, has not committed to such a celebration.

It was the Red Sox who brought Williams onto the field before the 1999 All-Star Game, where he was greeted by all of the players, receiving a thunderous ovation by the sellout crowd at Fenway Park before throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.

► Freddie Freeman’s return to Atlanta was just as beautiful and even more emotional than anticipated, with Freeman reminding everyone once again that he never wanted to leave. Freeman’s agents had given Atlanta a one-hour deadline on March 12 for 6 years, $175 million or five years, $165 million. When it was rejected, Atlanta traded two days later for Oakland 1B Matt Olson.

“A lot of people I’ve spoken with one-on-one know exactly what happened,’’ Freeman told reporters Friday. “I know a lot of people don’t know exactly what happened. I’m not going to be one to put it in quotes in the media. I’m just not here to do that PR stuff. I talked to the people I needed to talk to after everything went down.

“My wife and I are at peace. If you think about the past, it’s only going to affect your present and future. That’s what we have settled on. You can’t change anything that’s happened. All you can do is learn from your experiences and I’ve definitely learned a lot. …. I’m trying to move on.”

► Can you imagine if Giancarlo Stanton had never turned down the Cardinals’ trade proposal with the Miami Marlins before he went to the Yankees?

The Cardinals turned around and traded for Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna, surrendering future Marlins’ ace Sandy Alcantara and Diamondbacks ace Zac Gallen.

The Cardinals would have had an unreal rotation.

► Starter Lucas Giolito and the White Sox were in serious talks about a long-term extension this past winter and spring, but considering his struggles this season, perhaps the White Sox were wise to delay a lucrative commitment.

Giolito, who has finished among the top 11 in Cy Young balloting three times, has been the White Sox’s biggest disappointment on their pitching staff. He is 4-4 with a 5.63 ERA, yielding a 9.47 ERA in his last five starts, including nine home runs. He also is allowing 1.563 walks and hits per inning.

He is eligible for free agency after the 2023 season.

► What a moment for Angels first baseman David MacKinnon, and all late draft picks, when he was called up for the first time this week and produced his first hit and RBI. McKinnon, 28, was a 32nd-round draft pick in 2017, signing for just $1,000.

“I cried, just cried, screaming watching the game,’’ said Joshua Kusnick, who represented MacKinnon until he left the sports agent business. “Here’s a guy who’s 27 years old, blew out his knee in the minors, and just kept grinding and grinding and grinding. Now, here he is, playing with [Shohei] Ohtani and [Mike] Trout. What an amazing story

“It’s so nice to see a young man who has done everything the right way get rewarded.’’

► The Royals are letting teams know that they are open for business, which means that veteran outfielder Andrew Benintendi will be on the move, and perhaps Zack Greinke, too.

► Injuries are piling up in baseball with the season condensed this year with spring training shortened from six weeks to 3 ½ weeks, and playing a full 162-game season despite staring a week late.

“The players don't complain about it, but they know,’’ Twins manager Rocco Baldelli says. “They know that it's not natural to play all those games and be traveling on off-days and to have seven doubleheaders, 10 doubleheaders over the course of the year, whatever it's going to turn into for some teams.’’

Cleveland is in a stretch where they are playing 29 games in 27 days before the All-Star break, with three doubleheaders and only one off-day.

► One of Angels manager Joe Maddon’s chief complaints with the onslaught of analytics was that certain pitchers were not permitted to shake off their catcher during games. The Angels acknowledge that several of their young pitchers are indeed instructed not to shake off their veteran catchers, but say it’s not uncommon in baseball.

Maddon will be outspoken about the subject in his upcoming book with MLB Network’s Tom Verducci that’s expected to be published in October.

► We are just three weeks away from the All-Star Game, and there are six teams that still are on pace to lose 100 games. Take a bow, Oakland, Kansas City, Detroit, Cincinnati, Chicago Cubs and Washington.

► The Red Sox, who have the third-best record in June (17-4), leading the major leagues with a 2.77 ERA in that stretch, and leading the major leagues with a .280 batting average and 244 runs since May 10, may be facing a wild-card sized pothole in September. The Red Sox have a critical series in Toronto on Sept. 30-Oct. 2, and unless the Canadian government doesn’t lift the mandatory quarantine for unvaccinated visitors, they could be without several of their key players. Closer Tanner Houck, center fielder Jarren Duran, reliever Josh Taylor and starter Chris Sale are currently unvaccinated.

► The Dodgers are expected to be quite active at the trade deadline with starter Walker Buehler out at least until September and late-inning reliever Daniel Hudson out for the year.

Scouts say it should be no problem because of the Dodgers’ riches in the minor leagues with star-studded pitching prospects at Class A, and Class A catcher Diego Cartaya, who’s projected to be a superstar.

► Prayers to Oakland A’s great Sal Bando, 78, who is recovering from a recent stroke.

► The Cleveland Guardians, who are not only the youngest team in the major leagues but also have a younger roster than any Triple-A team, have as bright a future as any team in baseball. Trading shortstop Francisco Lindor to the Mets is looking like a stroke of genius with their middle infield of shortstop Amed Rosario and second baseman Andres Gimenez. They are earning just 5.656 million this year, and have been more productive than Lindor and his annual $32 million salary.

The Guardians rank second in MLB behind the Yankees, saving 41 defensive runs a game this season, according to Sports Info solutions, with Gimenez and Rosario combined for 14 runs saved. Their middle infield has been spectacular, saving 24 runs from their shortstop, second base, catcher and center field positions.

► Remember Mark Appel, the pitcher guy the Astros selected with the first pick in the 2013 amateur draft, leaving the Cubs to grab future MVP Kris Bryant? Well, nine years later, after being a bust and even leaving baseball for three years, is finally a big-league pitcher. He was called up Friday by the Phillies.

“Completely overwhelmed,’’ Appel, 30, tweeted. “I have so many thoughts I want to share but can’t find the words, so I’ll just say this: I’m thankful. Today, I get to play a game I love as a Major League baseball player.’’

► Oakland A’s shortstop Elvis Andrus may have a clause in his contract that will pay him $15 million next year if he reaches 550 plate appearances, but there’s 0.00% chance the A’s will continue playing him if he gets close.

► Raise your hand if you thought the Dodgers’ leading Cy Young candidate would be Tony Gonsolin? The guy is 9-0 with a league-leading 1.58 ERA, the fifth-lowest by a Dodger pitcher though his first 13 starts in franchise history. Incredibly, he has not given up more than two earned runs in any start. It’s the longest streak of remaining undefeated and not giving up more than two runs since ERA became an official stat in 1912.

► The Cardinals cringe wondering where they’d be without their sensation rookie class with positions players Brendan Donovan, Nolan Gorman, and Juan Yepez, and pitchers Andre Pallante, Matthew Liberatore and Zack Thompson.

They have received more value (3.1 WAR) than any team in the major leagues in research by veteran St. Louis writer/broadcaster Bernie Miklasz.

► The Yankees and Mets are currently having the greatest combined winning percentage in their 60-year history together. Their best winning percentage was in 1998 (.624) when the Yankees went 114-48 (.704) while the Mets went 88-74 (.543).

► The hardest thing for ballplayers is not necessarily making the big leagues, but sticking around.

Angels rookie starter Reid Detmers threw a no-hitter six weeks ago against the Tampa Bay Rays.

He went 0-2 with a 5.67 ERA in his next six starts, including eight homers in 27 innings, and was demoted to triple-A Salt Lake this week.

► Welcome back, Padres manager Bob Melvin.

He missed only two games in his entire 18-year managerial career before this season.

He missed 20 games this year having gone prostate surgery in May, and contracting Covid a month later, returning to the dugout Wednesday after missing 11 games.

They were 12-8 during his absence

“It’s a crazy world we live in,’’ Melvin told reporters.

Yep, in more ways than one.

Follow Nightengale on Twitter: @Bnightengale 

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Luis Arráez, Twins' wizard with the bat, in line for an All-Star spot

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