Luis Arraez became a Silver Slugger on Thursday, which is a little weird. Because the Twins' latest batting champion doesn't consider himself a slugger at all.
But by a vote of the American League's 15 managers and several dozen of its coaches, Arraez is the top-hitting utility player in the league, which earned him a Silver Slugger trophy, MLB announced on Thursday night.
"I love hitting man, I love hitting," Arraez told MLB Network during the awards show. "Everybody knows I hate to strike out. I just want to put the ball in play, and I want a hit every time."
Arraez certainly did his best at that, collecting 173 hits during the season, seventh-most in the league, and posting a .316 batting average, the best of any qualified AL hitter. But only eight of them were home runs, the fewest by an AL Silver Slugger Award winner since Houston's Jose Altuve reached the seats only seven times in 2014.
Arraez is the first player to win the honor in the newly created category of "utility player," having made 41 starts at second base, four at third, 34 as the designated hitter and 60 at a brand-new position for the 25-year-old Venezuelan: first base.
"I have an outfield glove, too," Arraez reminded his MLB Network interviewers, having made 41 career starts in left field. "I just want to go out there and enjoy the game, whether I play second, third, first — this was my first time playing first base — I just enjoy it a lot."
Arraez is the 10th Twins player to earn the Louisville Slugger-sponsored award, which has been presented every season since 1980. Nelson Cruz was the most recent Twin honored in 2020. Kirby Puckett took home six of them from 1986-94; Joe Mauer won five from 2006-2013; Cruz, Justin Morneau and Chuck Knoblauch earned two apiece, and Arraez joins Mitch Garver, Josh Willingham, Paul Molitor and Gary Gaetti as one-time winners in Minnesota.
Other American League Silver Slugger winners were outfielders Aaron Judge of New York, Mike Trout of Los Angeles and Julio Rodriguez of Seattle; first baseman Nathaniel Lowe of Texas; second baseman Jose Altuve of Houston; shortstop Xander Bogaerts of Boston; third baseman Jose Ramirez of Cleveland; catcher Alejandro Kirk of Toronto, and designated hitter Yordan Alvarez of Houston.
The National League winners were outfielders Mookie Betts of Los Angeles, Kyle Schwarber of Philadelphia and Juan Soto of San Diego; first baseman Paul Goldschmidt of St. Louis; second baseman Jeff McNeil of New York: shortstop Trea Turner of Los Angeles; third baseman Nolan Arenado of St. Louis; catcher J.T. Realmuto of Philadelphia; designated hitter Josh Bell of San Diego, and utility player Brandon Drury of San Diego.
Arraez and four of his teammates — Byron Buxton, Jorge Polanco, Jose Miranda and Joe Ryan — will be at the Mall of America on Nov. 18 to take part in the team's new-uniform unveiling.