CHICAGO — Luis Arraez's arms are probably pretty tired.
Sure, from swinging the bat so well all season in order to claim the American League batting title, which he officially won in the Twins' 10-1 victory over the White Sox on Wednesday.
But also from stretching out for all the hugs he received in the wake of his achievement. Like one from Gio Urshela as he exited the game in the third inning after sending a soaring double to the center field wall. Or the one from Carlos Correa at the top of the dugout as the announced crowd of 18,918 at Guaranteed Rate Field gave him a small ovation. Or the one from his wife, Gladys, after he exited the visiting clubhouse with an open champagne bottle in hand.
"It feels amazing. This is one of my goals," Arraez said. "I'm living my dream right now."
The 25-year-old utility player became the fifth Twins player to end the season with the top batting average in the league, his 2022 number immortalized at .316. Arraez heaped praise on his hitting coach, Frank Valdez, former teammate Nelson Cruz, Correa, his family and Twins fans, wanting to share a little piece of the honor with everyone who has supported him.
Which is generous, considering the batting race was about all there was to cheer for in the last month or so of the season. Despite leading the Central Division for a big chunk of the campaign, the Twins finished below .500 at 78-84 and in third place behind the White Sox (81-81) and Guardians, who are postseason-bound up 14 games on the Twins.
That also likely added to the stress of the chase, as Arraez carried not only his personal desire for the award but fans' hope for a salvaged positive from a disappointing season. Halfway through the year, the Venezuelan — who admitted he couldn't sleep Tuesday night ahead of the reckoning — was 20 points ahead of any other major league batter. But his lead slowly eroded, partially because of left hamstring tightness that plagued him for a couple of months late in the year. He sat out Sunday's and Monday's games because of the injury, though he assured everyone he wanted to win the title fighting and not back into it.
Meanwhile, Aaron Judge surged on his quest for baseball history. The Yankees outfielder set the new AL home run record at 62, overcoming Roger Maris' mark from 1961. With his 131 RBI, Judge needed just the batting title to round out his Triple Crown. But when he homered to set the record Tuesday evening, the postseason-bound Yankees decided to rest him for the regular-season finale, as Judge (at .311) would have needed three or more hits to have a chance of catching Arraez.
So Arraez entered Wednesday's game knowing he'd likely already won. And the team followed in line with its leading hitter. Gary Sanchez and Jermaine Palacios homered, and Matt Wallner, Gilberto Celestino and Nick Gordon all drove in runs in the first three innings. Rookie Louie Varland threw five shutout innings, allowing just four hits to go with his five strikeouts, to earn his first major league win. Cole Sands preserved the shutout until Carlos Perez's RBI double in the bottom of the ninth but still collected his first MLB save.
The team held a raucous gathering after the win, doling out game balls and soaking in this incarnation of the Twins for the final time.
"Last day of the year, guys have flights. They're literally trying to get in the shower normally, and everyone's running around," manager Rocco Baldelli said. "Everyone slowed down for a few minutes and wanted to acknowledge what Luis did. I said to the group, 'You can be in the game a very long time and never see one of your guys go out there and achieve something like that.' And everyone, I think, had a lot of fun with it."
Correa definitely did. There was a big box underneath one of the clubhouse tables pregame, waiting for Arraez to open once he officially donned the batting title crown.
"I said, 'You've got to lock it up first. If not, I'm returning that,' " Correa said. "… 'I've got the receipt with me.'"
But Arraez delivered and was able to keep the black Louis Vuitton suitcase, selected because apparently Arraez's teammates didn't find his old carry-on roller-bag befitting of an AL batting champ. They literally threw it in the trash can after the game.
Poor taste in travel accessories aside, Correa said Arraez was "truly special."
"His routine in the cage never changed throughout the whole year," Correa said. "… We talked about being the same guy always, whether you're 0-for-4 or 4-for-4. That's something he's done better than anybody I've seen. He's been the same guy every single day, no matter what goes on on the field. The players are coming to him for hitting approach. Players are following him.
"And that's something that makes me very happy."