Nice to Arcia Again*
by, 06-06-2014 at 04:33 PM (495 Views)
(Originally posted on twinsandlosses.com)
“That’s approaching Jim Thome territory.”
Those were the words that Dick Bremer used to describe Oswaldo Arcia’s mammoth four hundred and twenty-two foot grand slam to right field against the Brewers on Thursday night.
Despite losing the last game in this year’s Border Battle, there are a multitude of good things to take away from the four game series: the Twins took two games from a National League division leader; the club is just four games out of first place in the AL Central into June; according to ESPN the Twins statistically have a better chance of making the playoffs (22.3%) than the Yankees (18.4%), and – my favorite – we may very well have something special right field.
I’m in love with Oswaldo Arcia. Wait, that came out wrong. I’m in love with the way Oswald Arcia plays the game of baseball. He’s young, he’s fiery and he is bursting at the seams with energy like a five year old who is all hopped up on Mountain Dew. He’s got an infectious smile, a desire to learn and even made friends with the right field bleachers in the Bronx during their last road trip to the east coast. The twenty-three year old from Venezuela is quickly moving his way up many Twins fan’s “favorite current player” list assuming they have one, and he has earned it.
Since coming back from his injury and subsequent rehab stint in Rochester the right fielder has been absolutely crushing the ball. Yes, he only played four games before injuring his wrist but that shouldn’t take away from the fact that he has raised his batting average one hundred and fifty-three points since he returned at the end of May. In the last ten games he has hit a .366 clip with four homers and twelve RBI including the aforementioned grand slam that Bremer claimed was “halfway to Ramsey County.” Just take a look at what he’s done lately:
Arcia’s Last 10 Games
AB Runs Hits HR RBI Walks SO Avg 41 7 15 4 12 0 11 .366
To put those numbers into perspective, Arcia has had more home runs, RBI, and as many doubles (4) as Aaron Hicks, who has played forty-five games. Ok, maybe that isn’t a great comparison but if you put those numbers side by side with the likes of Miguel Cabrera, Troy Tulowitzki, Ryan Braun, Yasil Puig, Giancarlo Stanton and Yoenis Cespedes (just to name a few) over their last ten games you’ll see Oswaldo has outperformed them all. In fact, he’s been “Josh Donaldson good” lately, notching one less RBI but batting thirty-three points higher.
The fielding aspect of his game also seems be getting better, getting better allllllll the time. Comparing his defense from last year to this year he has raised his fielding value from -12.3 last year to 1.1 this year as well as raising his defensive value 17.4 points from -17.0 to 0.4 in the same time frame. His dWAR has also improved from -1.9 to 0.1 and while he may not have Carlos Gomez’s speed or Jose Bautista’s arm accuracy, he has shown signs that he is growing into the position and flashed some leather this year.
Unfortunately, not everything is as ducky and bunny (© Common Man Dan Cole) as it seems in the Land of Oz. While Arcia has been knocking the cover off the ball recently, he’s also been missing a lot too. According to FanGraphs he strikes out 26% of the time but draws a walk less than 2%. That’s no bueno. Even Jason Kubel, the human strikeout machine, has coaxed a free pass in 11% of his plate appearances. While examining his PitchFX and plate discipline this season I noticed he’s swinging at 8% more pitches outside the zone compared to last season and although he makes 10% more contact on those pitches, he’s missed 6% more pitches that are thrown inside the zone.
Arcia also has trouble hitting on the road. While he has been absolutely dominant at the plate at home posting a .458/.458/1.000 split inside the friendly confines of Target Field he fails to bring that magic stick on road trips where every one of those numbers drops at least two hundred and fifty-eight points for a final split of .179/.200/.308. If we go by the statistics there is a 100% chance you will see Arcia slap an extra base hit inside Target Field yet there’s a 20% chance he even gets on base if you watch him, well, anywhere but. It’s up to Bruno to teach the young man some plate discipline and consistency, but he has plenty of time to fix these hiccups.
Injuries are another concern for this future star (yeah, I said it) as he has missed thirty-three of fifty-eight games so far this season and is bound to miss more after twisting his ankle Thursday night against the Brewers. Come on Baseball Gods, you’ve already taken Sano for the season and Buxton for the majority of it, can’t we just have this one? Luckily, he is a sprite young man so we can only hope that this injury bug is a mirage and not a trend. According to Mike Beradino, Arcia spent some quality time in the cage Friday afternoon with a tightly wrapped ankle and said DH on Saturday is a best-case scenario.
Yes, yes, yes, I am fully aware that “the season is young,” “he’s missed a lot of playing time,” and “fifteen games is a tiny sample size,” but you’re missing the point. The point is the Twins have seemingly started to turn the organization around and assembled a team that invokes memories of the 1984 Minnesota Twins: not all the pieces are in place, but the ground floor for something special with the likes of Dozier, Hughes, Pinto and Santana coupled with a minor leagues system overflowing with pitching talent has Twins Territory brimming with optimism.
Arcia may not be a “must-see” player yet, but if he’s at the plate or in the field you shouldn’t be reaching for the remote. Or letting your significant other reach for the remote.
*In my defense, I came up with the title before he got hurt again.