Until this season, Orlando Arcia has had the starting shortstop position handed to him on a silver platter. With newcomers Luis Urias and Eric Sogard now in camp threatening to take his spot from his grasp, Acria has taken the challenge head-on and looks like a changed man thus far in Spring Training.
Orlando Arcia with his FOURTH home run so far in spring training!
— FOX Sports Wisconsin (@fswisconsin) March 7, 2020
So far in Cactus League play, though nine games, Arcia is slashing .304/.304/1.000 with a 1.304 OPS and an impressive 5 home runs and 10 RBI. Of course, Spring Training stats should always be taken with a grain of salt, but Arcia’s production is very encouraging, especially because he is coming off a season where he was one of baseball’s worst qualified hitters in 2019.
So, what does Arcia’s scalding hot spring mean for the 2020 Brewers? Well, for starters, it means he will almost certainly be in the opening day lineup and the starting shortstop job is his to lose. His main competition, Luis Urias, has been out due to a broken hamate bone in his left hand, but is slated to participate in Spring Training games later this week. This injury only helps Arcia’s chances at securing the job to start the season.
Acria’s resurgence is an interesting development because there seems to be somewhat of a love-hate relationship with Orlando within the Brewers’ fanbase. At his best, like we saw in September and October 2018, he is a magician in the field who can complement his dazzling defensive abilities with clutch situational hitting and sneaky power. At his worst though, as we saw at times in 2019, he is very frustrating. A total liability at the plate and even looks messy in the field at times too. (He committed 14 errors in 2019)
My gut tells me Arcia’s improved plate discipline and power potential that Spring Training has showed us is for real. He likely saw the writing on the wall when Urias and Sogard were brought in, which is to say the front office was not prepared to put up with the inconsistency he has displayed since he became a full-time player. I believe he will earn himself most of the at-bats from the shortstop position in 2020, but in the event that his struggles from last year persist, the Crew will be better positioned to replace him.