Consistency, power and speed drive baseball’s roster of diverse talent
Fred Jeter | 6/16/2022, 6 p.m.
With Luis Arraez high stepping at the head of the pack, players of color are displaying a parade of excellence in big league baseball.
Arraez, the Venezuelan-born Minnesota Twins’infielder/des- ignated hitter, led the majors in batting average (.361) and on- base percentage (.448) through 2022 games of June 8.
The 25-year-old, left-handed hitter has even drawn comparisons to arguably the greatest Twin of all time, Rod Carew (.328 career norm.) Arraez has 331 hits in 1,032 bats since 2019, for a career .321 mark.
Like Arraez, Carew is Hispanic (from Panama) and a left-handed swinging infielder who overcame an absence of raw power with consistent line-drive hits, often to the opposite field. Arraez has just seven career home runs.
Arraez signed with the Twins as an international free agent when he was 16. Others at the top of the statistical charts:
Aaron Judge: The New York Yankees’ right fielder has the highest jersey number (99), most physical size (6-foot-8, 282 pounds) and most homers (22) of any slugger.
Through June 8, Judge had 22 home runs and 45 runs batted in to go with a .311 average.
In 2017, he was Rookie of Year and first player in big league history to post at least 45 homers, 100 RBI and 100 runs in their first season.
An all-round talent, the native Californian runs and throws above average and was the 2019 Wilson Defensive Player of the Year.
Jose Ramirez: A change of nicknames — from Indians to Guardians — has not slowed the switch-hitting bat of the Cleveland third baseman.
The native Dominican, who signed a pro contract at 17, has 594 career RBI, including a league leading 54 this season. Ramirez had 105 RBI in 2018 and 103 in 2021, and is on pace to top both numbers this season.
Ramirez, who packs plenty of power in his 5-foot-9 frame, is a three-time All-Star and three-time Silver Slugger Award winner.
Rafael Devers: On March 23, the 25-year- old Dominican infielder signed a one-year contract with Boston for $11.2 million. So
far he’s earning his money.The left-handed hitter known as Carita (babyface in Spanish) wears his bigboy pants on game day. Devers leads the majors in hits (80), extra-base hits (36) and total bases (141).
Julio Rodriguez: If Rookie of the Year award was voted on now, the Seattle center fielder would be a leading contender.
The Dominican didn’t turn 21 until this past Dec. 29, making him among the youngest players in the majors.
Rodriguez is powerfully built at 6-foot-3 and 228 pounds, but it has been his speed, so far, that most sets him apart. The Mariners’ newcomer leads league in stolen bases with 17 in 20 tries.
He is on pace to challenge Seattle’s single-season stolen bags record holder Harold Reynolds, who swiped 60 in 1987. Reynolds is now a popular TV commentator.
The Major League All-Star Game will be July 19 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Expect to see many of the players mentioned here on the field that night.