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  • How Can Arcia Bust His Epic Slump?

    After finishing 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in Sunday's sweep-clinching win over the White Sox, Oswaldo Arcia ran his hitless streak up to 31 consecutive at-bats. As Phil Miller noted in his post-game wrap-up, that's eight short of the franchise record.

    For all his talent and explosiveness, Arcia has proven to be a slump-prone hitter, with a tendency to look totally lost during extended stretches at the plate.

    Right now, he's mired in what I have to imagine is one of the worst funks of his life. It's not just the lack of hits -- it's the intensely bad at-bats. Seemingly every other plate appearance involves three or four pitches, a few non-competitive swings, and a strikeout or a pop fly.

    Arcia is a good hitter. He conquered the minor leagues with remarkable ease and has certainly demonstrated the characteristics of a quality MLB slugger. Why isn't that showing through right now?


    This isn't a situation like Jason Kubel, where a prolonged slump was evidence of diminished bat speed and declining ability. Arcia is only 23 and strong as a bull. Clearly, a big part of this is mental, but I wonder if that's all it is.

    I'm reminded of a tweet posted by my colleague, John Bonnes, back on June 10th:



    I remember reading it at the time and thinking, "Overreact much there, Johnny Boy?" I mean, this was Arcia's second start since the ankle injury. But sure enough, it was only the beginning of what has turned into a three-week cold spell for the young outfielder.

    So maybe there's something to that after all. Early in the season, Arcia had missed almost two months with a wrist injury, but he came back red-hot in late May, batting .378 with four doubles, four homers and 12 RBI in his first 11 games off the DL.

    I was at Target Field for the last of those games, in which he sprained the ankle when he was picked off at second base after a double. It was a gut-punch, because at that point Arcia was the star of the offense; he'd smashed a grand slam earlier that night. He was frustrated and in obvious pain as he limped off the field.

    I was surprised to see him back the next night as a pinch-hitter. The Twins had seemingly dodged a bullet. But since rolling his ankle, Arcia is 2-for-39 (.051) with 15 strikeouts in 47 plate appearances.

    Could the ankle be the culprit for his ongoing issues? Has the wrist flared up again? Or is he really just stuck in his own head?

    Whatever the case, his slump is headed toward historic proportions and the Twins are going to have to figure something out. They've already given him a couple days off for a "mental break," and that appears to have helped little.

    Perhaps some extended rest would help get him back to 100 percent physically. Or maybe a demotion to Triple-A is in order. That seems like an unappealing option, since you'd like to see Arcia fight through this thing in the big leagues and there aren't any clearly superior alternatives available. But I do wonder how much longer Ron Gardenhire is going to be able to tolerate these hideous at-bats.

    What do you think? What should the Twins do about the struggling, vitally important young outfielder?



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    Comments 32 Comments
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Keep playing him. The coaches need to do their job. And so does Arcia. There is absolutely no value in AAA left for him.
    1. Don't Feed the Greed Guy's Avatar
      Don't Feed the Greed Guy -
      Colabello is hitting .324 over the last ten games in AAA. Send down Arcia, and bring C.C. up one last time and see if he can ride a hot streak into the All Star break. If not, Arcia or Hicks can come up later in July, and we can put away the cowbells.
    1. Joe A. Preusser's Avatar
      Joe A. Preusser -
      I agree with Shane, there is no development value in sending him to AAA. He just looks so list though, it boggles the mind how different he looked just weeks ago. 2-3 more games, no more. He has to earn his spot just like everyone.
    1. Boom Boom's Avatar
      Boom Boom -
      I disagree with not demoting him.

      He's not going to fight out of the slump by sitting on the bench, and the Twins can't continue to let him flail away out there. He's just not focused, swinging at everything regardless of location, like a left-handed hitting Delmon Young. Whether he's conquered AAA or not, he's got to get his head on straight.
    1. Circus Boy's Avatar
      Circus Boy -
      Repeat of post on Monday Morning Madness: The second Arcia hit his grand slam, I said to myself: "The slump will begin in 3, 2, 1..." And it did. After a big hit like that, young players want that adrenaline surge every time up, and so they go fish. Now, having expected the slump, I now am confident he's enough of a gamer to correct course and start getting good swings.
    1. jharaldson's Avatar
      jharaldson -
      My opinion is if you send him down you are sending him down for the rest of the year. If what he needs to work on is consitency then that takes time to prove. I would give him another week or two before pulling th etrigger on a demotion.
    1. jimbo92107's Avatar
      jimbo92107 -
      Good observations all around. I'm in the keep him, play him camp. Arcia is a major leaguer now; he's got to learn to control his emotions at this level, where the pressure is highest. Young sluggers have to avoid the temptation to swing out of their shoes for home runs. You see how Willingham does it, with a controlled, powerful, repeatable swing. Hammer's homers all travel about the same direction, about the same distance. His swing is very powerful, but it's just a tick under max effort. He also uses situational awareness to narrow his swing zone, and he's willing to take a walk if a pitch isn't in his zone.

      Arcia's problems actually started before he turned his ankle. I think a macho contest started right about the day that Morales arrived, along with Josimil Pinto and all the Latin boys hitting well at the same time. Right about then Arcia got into a mindset like he was in not just a home run contest, but a "see who can hit the longest home run" contest. It culminated in his massive grand slam, and since then he's been trying to hit the moon with every swing.

      Get it under control, Oswaldo. A 500-foot homer doesn't count any more than one that barely clears the fence - ask Brian Dozier, a guy that's way ahead of you in home runs. Dozier is a perfect example of a guy that has been doing a great job of reading the situation, then being ready to turn on just the right pitch with an aggressive, but not crazy hard swing. Dozier is going to finish ahead of Arcia in home runs this year, and the harder Arcia swings, the farther he will fall behind the second baseman.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      AAA isn't a solution. Arcia must solve this problem himself. Bench him--and leave him there (except for pinch-hitting and spot duty (resting a starter for a game) until his replacement proves unworthy or Willingham leaves. Competition for a regular job reopens next Spring training.
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      Quote Originally Posted by Kwak View Post
      AAA isn't a solution. Arcia must solve this problem himself. Bench him--and leave him there (except for pinch-hitting and spot duty (resting a starter for a game) until his replacement proves unworthy or Willingham leaves. Competition for a regular job reopens next Spring training.
      How does leaving him rot on the bench solve anything for Arcia or the Twins?
    1. ScrapTheNickname's Avatar
      ScrapTheNickname -
      I don't know if they should send him down or keep him up. But we did see him hit the ball AT people ("hang woofums" - ay yay yay - as Hawk Harrelson calls them), not always scaldingly hard, but he got good wood on those balls. So I guess I am saying keep him up. I believe he will come out of this super-slump shortly. Maybe just into a regular slump, I don't know.
    1. jtkoupal's Avatar
      jtkoupal -
      Arcia needs at bats. If sending him to the minors to get them is necessary, then they should do it. However, I also don't believe that sending him down is the right thing. He needs to work out his problems at the big league level if he wants (and the Twins want him) to be a big league hitter. From watching several of his at-bats, I have seen a few things. I have seen him, like usual, fish for those breaking balls well below the knees and also go after the high fastball. However, there have been some signs of life. During the series with Chicago, he scolded 2 line drives right into Abreu's glove, he scorched one that Viciedo was able to reach down and grab in right, and he blasted one to center that Eaton was able to track down in front of the wall (deepest part of the park).

      Once he becomes more disciplined at the plate, I think he will be fine. But until then, we will see some struggles. Keep in mind that he only has 493 MLB at-bats. Many players need 1200-2000 at bats to blossom. He may need 1000 more at bats to blossom himself.
    1. ScrapTheNickname's Avatar
      ScrapTheNickname -
      [QUOTE=jtkoupal;247129] Arcia needs at bats ... Keep in mind that he only has 493 MLB at-bats ...

      You said it better than I did. (I haven't had any coffee yet, is my excuse.)
    1. dluxxx's Avatar
      dluxxx -
      If it's the ankle, then give him some time to heal. If not on the DL, then at least a few days in a row with some rest and treatment.

      If it isn't the ankle, then get him out there and let him swing through his struggles. Maybe drop down a bunt for a hit or concentrate on blasting it right up the middle instead of trying to turn on everything. That's how most professional hitters bust a slump. Try to cream the pitcher with a line drive.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Arcia needs to learn some plate discipline. That, I suspect, will go a long way towards eliminating the famine in his feast/famine routine.
    1. Sconnie's Avatar
      Sconnie -
      If he's hurt, DL, otherwise some extra time with Bruno is in order. He's got nothing left to prove in AAA.
    1. Jeremy Nygaard's Avatar
      Jeremy Nygaard -
      I think he should be sent down to regain some confidence. I believe he qualifies for a 4th option year (next year) if he needs it, so there's no need to HAVE to figure it out in the bigs now, especially since there are other guys (Parmelee and Colabello) who might still get one more chance to prove they belong. Plus, if the Twins are competing, the team needs competitive at-bats.
    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      He's making more contact in the past few games. I think he's gonna get a few to fall in real soon.

      If he goes back to swinging at everything and missing. Then something will have to be done.

      He's gotta quit trying to put every ball he swings at in a different zip code.
    1. glanzer's Avatar
      glanzer -
      He's only 16 hitless at-bats away from tying the all-time worst streak in baseball history of 47, set by Eugenio Velez a few years ago for the Dodgers. I say we ride it out and see how close he gets to the record.
    1. Circus Boy's Avatar
      Circus Boy -
      Quote Originally Posted by glanzer View Post
      He's only 16 hitless at-bats away from tying the all-time worst streak in baseball history of 47, set by Eugenio Velez a few years ago for the Dodgers. I say we ride it out and see how close he gets to the record.
      Batted .000 in 2011 in 40 PA, so must have carried over some ABs from the SF Giants in 2010, for whom he batted a respectable .256 over four seasons.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Tough call. This is epically bad, and not to be expected, but his earlier massive success was probably not sustainable either.

      I don't know what I'd do. I'd probably leave him up here, and ride it out. But man, that's a tough call for him and for the team this year.
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