The Brewers are in a really good spot at the moment. It seems as though everyone that is put into the lineup is putting together really good at bats. That includes young shortstop Orlando Arcia. I wrote something before the season started, about what the Brewers needed from the young player. The issues that needed to solve were the amount of strikeouts, not making enough contact, and not taking long at bats. Besides a short slump that began his season, Orlando Arcia is starting to look good at the plate.
(article from the beginning of the season)
The first thing that proved to be a big problem last year, was his strikeouts. At some times in the season, he seemed to be an automatic out in 3 pitches. That has surely changed this year. Last year he posted a 23.8% strikeout percentage, and so far this year he has brought that down to 20.4%. Sure, it may seem like a small percentage, but that gives him an extra 4% of times that he can be making contact (we will touch on the importance of that later). Right now, according to fangraphs his percentage is right around average. Let’s be honest here, he is your number 8 hitter, for him to be around average is pretty good. Not getting out from the strike out all the time is great, but even better when he is capitalizing his time with getting hits.
Getting hits is the goal of every team on offense, more hits, more runs. Hitting last year for Arcia, at some points, was kind of a foreign subject. This year however, it is a different story. In the article I wrote in the begging of the year, I talked about his contact percentage compared to his BABIP (batting average on balls in play). I found out that last year when he put the ball in play he was a .305 hitter. The problem lied in not making enough contact, last year his contact % was at 72.6%, he simply wasn’t making enough contact to be a consistent hitter. This year so far his BABIP is down, but his contact% is up at 75.3. If you relate that to his strikeout percentage that is down 4%, he is substituting that with making contact. That is great news, and the news keeps getting better when you look at the quality of his at bats.
The quality of at bats that Arcia is having this season is one of his biggest improvements. The numbers really show this one. Last year he was averaging 3.5 pitches per plate appearance, this year he brought that up to 4. To put it into perspective, in 500 at bats last year he would have seen 1,750 pitches, this year, if he stays on track, he will see 2,000. That is a 250 pitch difference, that is huge. That is not the only thing that has significantly improved. Walks. He went from a terrible 4.1% walk rate last year to now 9%.
Something the numbers can’t show, is his comfort level in the box. To me he just looks so much better, and most importantly more comfortable. For someone who was almost painful to watch in the box last year, the comfort he has this year, is by far, his biggest improvement. Now, I do realize that these numbers aren’t “amazing”, however for your 8th hitter, defensive shortstop, can be productive, that could mean all the difference for the Brewers this season.