• The Advantageous Oswaldo Arcia

    Oswaldo Arcia’s rookie season was filled with the expected peaks and valleys that most normal human rookies encounter during their first year of facing the world’s best competition.

    Offensively, he displayed flashes of unbridled power by depositing home runs to all fields but alternated those moments with stretches of being lost. Over three games in early July, Arcia woofed 11 times in 18 at-bats. In that small sampling, he swung the bat 26 times but managed to put the ball in play just three times (two infield flies and a medium fly to left) while missing 16 times and fouling off seven more.

    Sent back to Rochester shortly thereafter – perhaps just for his own sanity’s sake as he seemed ready to snap – Arcia returned to Minnesota in August for the duration of the season and continued to hit the ball hard (when he made contact).

    Like many overzealous noobies, Arcia struggled to maintain the respectable plate discipline he had worked hard to cultivate while in the minors in 2012. In the bigs, he reverted back to his previous ways and swung harder and more frequently than your parents at the neighbor’s key party in the late 1980’s.

    There are pros and cons to this approach.

    First, Arcia thrived in hitter’s counts when he could anticipate the heater. Perhaps because he was an unproven player, the Twins outfielder saw a higher than average number of fastballs when he had the drop on pitchers (70% vs. 62% league average) and he was able to capitalize. Of his 14 home runs, seven came on fastballs when he was ahead in the count. Beyond that, just based on batting average, he was baseball’s best when ahead in the count – his .509 batting average led the game (minimum 50 plate appearances).

    Skeptics can (rightly) point out that this is a small universe to make any sweeping proclamations; however the takeaway is that in situations Arcia needed to take advantage, he did. The reason that Arcia’s plate discipline numbers were so skewed towards the pitcher’s favor is because, far too often, the pitcher was in the catbird seat. Under those circumstances, he struggled mightily and hit just .160 as pitchers put away the fastball (just 44% of the time) and opened up their repertoire to twirl different offerings past his bat.

    Visually, we can see how much better Arcia’s swing zone is when he is ahead in the count compared to the vast swath of real estate he tries to cover once he falls behind. It turns into an “Oh my god, here’s strike three coming: Kill it! Kill it!” mentality.


    (via ESPN Stats & Info)

    There is no question that Arcia’s swing is fundamentally strong. With strong engagement with his lower half (controlled stride, solid hip involvement), his ability to keep his hands in to his body allows him to drive the ball well to all fields, as seen in the example below:


    As Arcia develops his pitch recognition and comprehension skills, the presumption is he will be behind in the count less often as pitchers become more reluctant to throw him anything cherry. If he is able to ignore those out-of-zone pitches, this should allow for him to jump on more of the suitable pitches and deploy his powerful swing.
    This article was originally published in blog: The Advantageous Oswaldo Arcia started by Parker Hageman
    Comments 30 Comments
    1. Jim H's Avatar
      Jim H -
      Quote Originally Posted by oldguy10 View Post
      I think any Twins' fans would take Abreu like numbers from Arcia. And I'd sure like to see some of the attitude Gardy displays toward him be a thing of the past, none of the young players need that, at least I sure do not think so. Encouragement not disparagement toward the younger players is what is needed from management at all levels.
      I have no real idea what you mean about Gardy attitude toward Arcia and perhaps other young players. A great of deal what Gardy says is generic, you read what you want into it, and a lot of fans do. The really important stuff Gardy says, is said directly to the player and largely in private. I don't hear a lot of "Gardy is sure tough on young players" from ex players or really indirectly from anybody else who might have some actual knowlege. The whole Gardy is too tough on young players seems to come from certain segments of the fans, who largely don't like Gardy for other reasons as well.


      None of this means that Gardy is the perfect manager for every young player or that he is anything close to a great manager. I think he is a good manager, I think he has a good, hard working staff and I am satisfied with that.


      I thought Tom Kelly was pretty close to a great manager. I wish he would of had better teams to work with during his time with the Twins. There were those who thought he was too hard on young players as well. It is sort of ironic that among his more important most-managerial duties for the Twins is working with young minor league players.
    1. TRex's Avatar
      TRex -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      Advantageous and adventurous as well...
      This is from tonight:

      OK, first off, that is definitely on him. However... did you see how much that ball was bouncing? Outfield hits didn't even bounce that high off the Astroturf at the Metrodome (except for Knobby's in '91)! This wasn't a case of an outfielder being too lazy to bend down for the ball, as it actually bounced OVER his glove. Again, he should still be cognizant of where he is playing, but I'll chalk this up to focusing too much on the runner at third.
    1. Heimer's Avatar
      Heimer -
      How did we acquire Arcia?
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      What's a key party?

      Anywhoo, I think it's equally likely that pitchers will not throw as many heaters to Arcia when behind in the count. And the game of cat and mouse will commence. While I think he can improve on his pitch recognition skills. I hope he doesn't change his approach and suddenly become a patient hitter. We will need those violent swings.
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      What's a key party?
      It's not the one that you trade vehicles with people.
    1. crarko's Avatar
      crarko -
      Quote Originally Posted by snepp View Post
      It's not the one that you trade vehicles with people.
      Just prior to the Revolutionary War people threw keys into the lake to protest the stadium tax.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      Quote Originally Posted by TRex View Post
      OK, first off, that is definitely on him. However... did you see how much that ball was bouncing? Outfield hits didn't even bounce that high off the Astroturf at the Metrodome (except for Knobby's in '91)! This wasn't a case of an outfielder being too lazy to bend down for the ball, as it actually bounced OVER his glove. Again, he should still be cognizant of where he is playing, but I'll chalk this up to focusing too much on the runner at third.
      When I first saw Arcia play I commented "this guy is a White Sox outfielder". Last season and this video confirms that. I'm not sure how he progresses as a hitter, but I'm am sure his future is as a DH and not a fielder.
    1. amjgt's Avatar
      amjgt -
      Can he play short?
    1. alskntwnsfn's Avatar
      alskntwnsfn -
      Quote Originally Posted by jay View Post
      From the numbers we were looking at the other day, it'd be easy to say Dozier does the same thing. As I look at it more now, their numbers are both a bit more to the extremes (Arcia especially), but not really bizarre or anything. Parker, where'd you get the .510 for Arcia when ahead?

      Splits via BRef, MLB:
      Ahead - .297/.463/.494 (.957)
      Behind - .202/.210.294 (.504)

      Dozier:
      Ahead - .312/.460/.618 (1.078)
      Behind - .183/.197/.254 (.451)

      Arcia:
      Ahead - .365/.492/.719 (1.210)
      Behind - .143/.149/.171 (.320)
      Wow, those are amazing splits and it underscores one of the big faults to the Twins hitting philosophy. For the most part, Twins hitters seem to guess very rarely. I'd like to seem them guess a lot more. Way too often our hitters seem to try to cover the whole plate or look to slap the ball oppo, even before they get 2 strikes. I really hope the coaching staff is looking at this and will develop a cheat sheet for each opposing pitcher regarding what they like to do on 0-0, 0-1, 1-0, and 1-1 counts. If our hitters can do a better job of guessing on these early counts hopefully they'll either hit balls harder earlier in the count, effectively increasing their OPS earlier in the count (by taking the same approach as if it was 2-0 or 3-1). And if it helps them get in hitters count, then all the better. There's no excuse for swinging at pitches outside the zone with less than two strikes. It would be really interesting to see a comparison of Twins hitters O-swing% versus other teams in the league with less than 2 strikes. Maybe somebody with more time and expertise with the data could look into that. And it would be interesting to compare the difference in ISO between AAA/AA and the majors for Twins players versus players from other teams. It seems like our guys have a much harder time getting SLG to transfer from the minors to the majors. If our coaching staff can't address this (if we truly are below average in this regard), it makes all our projections about future prospect stardom a mute point.

      These are the metrics we should use to grade our manager and hitting coaches.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by alskntwnsfn View Post
      These are the metrics we should use to grade our manager and hitting coaches.
      It's a great point and I have always wondered why we seem to have so few ways of measuring coaching impact. You would think, given the degree of analytics we have, that we might have a few handy, meaningful ways of analyzing coaching staffs.
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