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  • Oswaldo Arcia Is Very Good (But He's Not Quite There Yet)

    For the Minnesota Twins, Oswaldo Arcia represents the promise of a better tomorrow.

    With the candles from his 23rd birthday cake still smoldering, Arcia’s exquisite power display in fewer than an entire season’s worth of baseball games has been a refreshing welcome to a fan base that has not had many legitimate offensive prospects to rally around since Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau.

    Historically, his power numbers at this age rank among some of the best Twins’ sluggers. So far, his career .451 slugging percentage prior to the age of 24 falls behind only Kent Hrbek, Harmon Killebrew, Bob Allison, Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer and Tom Brunansky. With just under a year until his next birthday, the left-handed Arcia is poised to jump over several of those hitters as he grows more comfortable with the league’s pitching.

    There are some who feel that Arcia still has a few more improvements to make before he is considered a complete hitter.

    Swing Hard In Case You Hit It

    If you are reviewing his Fangraphs.com profile, the most obvious area in need of attention is his plate discipline.

    After managing 23 walks in 378 plate appearances in 2013, Arcia has drawn two walks this season. It is because of this that his on-base percentage is very one-dimensional and reliant on his ability to hit safely. (With a batting average on balls in play at .391 this year, it will be hard to have a sustainable on-base percentage without mixing in a few walks.) Arcia has the tendency to expand the strike zone, trying to cover everything from 952 to 651 at times, which has led to strikeouts in nearly 30 percent of his plate appearances. More than anything, when backed into a corner -- say, with a two-strike count -- Arcia comes out swinging which means hacking at pitches outside the strike zone.

    Last season Arcia was a first-pitch monster. He batted .379/.400/.724 with three home runs and a double on the first pitch of his plate appearances. Pitchers threw him a hefty number of fastballs (57%) and stayed in the strike zone (49% zone%). As advance scouts and video preppers recognized this trait, opponents altered their approach in 2014. Now he rarely sees a fastball (43%) or pitches in the strike zone (41%) to start an at-bat. Rather than changing his game plan, Arcia has actually swung more in first-pitch counts this year while seeing fewer premium pitches to drive.

    Pundits like to talk about guys who demonstrate “max effort” swings. Carlos Gomez, who swings out of his shoes on every pitch, personifies this idea. Even as he morphed into an offensive threat, Gomez’s swing rate, chase rate and contact rate all ranked well below average. Arcia falls into this camp as well. When Arcia commits, there is little indecision -- he is swinging for all or nothing.

    Without sacrificing his powerful and aggressive swing, he needs to learn which pitches he can handle in what circumstances.

    Mechanical Or Mental Adjustments?


    It seems there is be a hole in his swing that teams can and will exploit.

    During a recent Fox Sports North broadcast, former player and FSN analyst Roy Smalley pointed out that Arcia’s mechanics suffer from a hitch that is causing significant issues with his ability to handle pitches up in the zone. What Smalley highlighted was that Arcia’s hands started high...


    ...but dropped slightly above his waistline when he brings his bat to load (the position right before bringing the bat forward):


    As the hands drop, his ability to make solid contact on high strikes decreases considerably. According to ESPN/trumedia, this year alone he has swung at 28 pitches up in the zone and missed on 15 of his swings and put the ball in play on just four swings. The example below from Sunday’s broadcast shows Arcia’s swing plane attempting to catch up to a high changeup:



    From the lower vantage point Arcia needs to bring the bat up allowing for small impact zone.

    As Smalley championed during the game, Arcia does not necessarily have to change his swing -- he just needs to recognize pitches and understand his limitations. A high fastball is going to give him issues. Cheating for high fastballs is going to leave him susceptible to slow breaking balls. This goes back to improving his plate discipline. As pitchers shift their offerings and attack certain holes, Arcia will need to make adjustments.

    There is no question Arcia has the makings to be one of the top offensive talents to emerge from the Twins system. As part of the development process, improving his plate discipline and protecting against his weaknesses should entrench him as a middle-of-the-order threat for years to come.
    Comments 12 Comments
    1. lightfoot789's Avatar
      lightfoot789 -
      ARCIA
      SANO (except he does take a BB)
      ABW II
    1. jimbo92107's Avatar
      jimbo92107 -
      It's remarkable to me how similar Oswaldo Arcia's swing is to a lefty version of Harmon Killebrew. Same powerful hip turn, same massive thrust of powerful forearms. Almost the same extension on the follow through. With a little better zone management, he's got a chance to be a great one.
    1. Dman's Avatar
      Dman -
      Yeah this lineup is going to have some serious speed and power once we get the young guys up and adjusted.
    1. DK's Avatar
      DK -
      Ted Williams once had a similar hitch in his swing. His adjustment was to lower his hands in his stance so that as he would make his stride his hands would naturally come up. Arcia needs to become more of a student of the game and make these adjustments. Sometimes simple adjustments will bring great results.
    1. abnormal_1's Avatar
      abnormal_1 -
      Love watching Arcia swing. His power is awesome. To truly help Arcia and upcoming prospects such as Sano achieve their potential I think the Twins need to get a coach on the staff that has Latin American roots to help them more rapidly adjust to the bigs.

      Cant wait to have the Twins with a powerful lineup and a stocked pitching rotation. Meyer, May, etc....
    1. Monkeypaws's Avatar
      Monkeypaws -
      Yeah, that gif of his swing is impressive, even if he did miss. No wonder this guy hits bombs when he connects.
    1. jimbo92107's Avatar
      jimbo92107 -
      Quote Originally Posted by DK View Post
      Ted Williams once had a similar hitch in his swing. His adjustment was to lower his hands in his stance so that as he would make his stride his hands would naturally come up. Arcia needs to become more of a student of the game and make these adjustments. Sometimes simple adjustments will bring great results.
      True. Williams held his hands where Arcia does after his hitch, about even with his ribs. Not currently kosher, but whatever works. Adjusting to the high pitch must be easier if you start with your hands in the upper third of the strike zone. Still easier to adjust down, but you have a chance to meet the chest high ones.
    1. Sconnie's Avatar
      Sconnie -
      The theme with Arcia's next step in his maturation as a hitter seems to fit well with Bruno's M.O.
      1) Identify the pitch you want.
      2) look for said pitch in hitters counts
      3) don't swing at pitches that aren't 1
      4) mash the mistake
    1. Dantes929's Avatar
      Dantes929 -
      Here's the thing I don't care for. His homerun rate is higher in the majors than it was in the minors. When he was coming up what I really liked was his mix of hitting for average and power but now it looks like he is going for it all on every pitch. When I see him swing I think does he really need to go max effort? A 380 foot homer counts just as much as a 440 foot homer and I would like to see more of the .314 average he had in the minors even if it means a couple fewer homers.
    1. lightfoot789's Avatar
      lightfoot789 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dantes929 View Post
      Here's the thing I don't care for. His homerun rate is higher in the majors than it was in the minors. When he was coming up what I really liked was his mix of hitting for average and power but now it looks like he is going for it all on every pitch. When I see him swing I think does he really need to go max effort? A 380 foot homer counts just as much as a 440 foot homer and I would like to see more of the .314 average he had in the minors even if it means a couple fewer homers.
      The fact is: The HR rate in the MLB is much higher than the FSL; Eastern League; or International League. MLB parks as a whole are smaller in demensions I guess. Meaning if you can play - You should hit more in the MLB than some of the parks you play in at the MiLB level (minors). Maybe he's just doing Oswaldo and having more success with HRs as opposed to balls in the gap that MLB fielders can get to?
      http://www.milb.com/news/article.jsp..._milb&sid=milb
    1. Dantes929's Avatar
      Dantes929 -
      Thanks lightfoot. That could be and certainly time will tell but has anyone seen him in the minors over the years? Is he swinging harder now? Reminds be a little of Hrbek. Don't get me wrong. He was a great player but he had such a good swing I always thought that if he had settled on one stance and used the whole park he could have been much more like Muguel Cabrerra and had a shot at the HOF. He hit moon shots for home runs that were fun to watch but he was the original guy that made me think clearing the fence by 100 feet wasn't really necessary. On the topic of current Twins reminding me of former Twins I was happy to hear Santana say we shouldn't expect many more homers out of him since that is not his game. I often wondered if Nick Punto could have been much better except for the fact that when he hit a rare home run he spent the next couple of months trying to hit another one. He just seemed way more concerned with his home run total than his batting average by how hard he would swing.
    1. 70charger's Avatar
      70charger -
      Quote Originally Posted by lightfoot789 View Post
      The fact is: The HR rate in the MLB is much higher than the FSL; Eastern League; or International League. MLB parks as a whole are smaller in demensions I guess. Meaning if you can play - You should hit more in the MLB than some of the parks you play in at the MiLB level (minors). Maybe he's just doing Oswaldo and having more success with HRs as opposed to balls in the gap that MLB fielders can get to?
      http://www.milb.com/news/article.jsp..._milb&sid=milb

      I'm not an expert on park dimensions or anything, but it seems to me that the more likely explanation for a higher HR rate in the majors than in the minors is simple survivorship bias. Only the best hitters ever make it to the bigs, but you'll see guys playing in the Florida State League whose next stop will be town ball.

      Of course that doesn't explain Ozzie's bump, but I'd think that this early in his career it's more of a statistical anomaly than anything. If he kept up this home run rate, he'd hit 100 every year.
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