We are two weeks away from the best day of the year, Opening Day. Opening day starts a new chapter, where everyone is put onto a clear slate. No matter what happened last year, it doesn’t matter anymore. One player who can really use the clean slate is Orlando Arcia. To make the story short, the kid really struggled offensively last year. He became a liability at the end of the lineup. At some points of the season, he seemed to be an automatic out. In July he was sent down to AAA to work on some stuff, and adjust his swing motion. When he came back he seemed to have a little more fire under his belt. That really came through however, in the playoffs.
In the postseason he was electric, hitting as many homeruns as he did in all of the regular season. Another thing that stands out, is his strikeout percentage. During the season he held a 23% strikeout rate, in the postseason, he cut that number in half at 11%. Although the playoffs are a small sample size, I truly believe that the Aricia we saw in the postseason, is ready to shine in 2019.
The biggest problem I saw with Orlando in 2018 was the amount of pitches he seen per at bat. On average he saw about 3.5 pitches, which can be a big problem. If a hitter is out in three to four pitches, he has no chance to get deep into a count, and catch a mistake. Going off of that, is his walks. He had a 4% walk rate, which again can cause a lot of issues. Walks have become so important in the game of baseball. If a hitter can’t take advantage of it, he can severely hurt his team.
Now, I am not saying that Arcia needs to come out and be Lorenzo Cain at the plate, but we do need to see some production at the SS position. He can get a little leeway with his strong defense, but at the end of the day, that can only take him so far. For the Brewers to be 95-67 this year, I projected that each position needs to produce around 85 runs (that includes walks, hits, homeruns, and stolen bases). Last year Arcia nearly hit 30 runs, falling 55 runs under.
Like I said before, this year is a whole new ballgame (see what I did there). With that being the case, let’s look at his winter league numbers. In 72 at bats, he struck out five times and walked ten times. That’s more like it! He also had one home run and posted a .405 OBP. That is the Orlando we all got to witness in the postseason. As of 3/11, in Spring Training with 26 plate appearances, he has walked twice and struck out three times. Now off season and Spring Training numbers only mean so much. However seeing Arcia having some success at the plate is not only promising for this season, but also his confidence.
Since we have now set all the records straight it’s time to get into what really matters, what the Brewers’ need from him. To start things off, it is good to keep in mind that Arcia is a 24 year old, DEFENSIVE shortstop. Not saying that he is never going to contribute a lot on offense, but his main specialty is his defense. Craig Counsell said the other day that the defense revolves around him and how they shift, and that you need a guy like that out there.
As I look at Arcia I don’t expect him to be batting .300 and hitting 25 homers. What I do expect is a solid seven or eight place hitter who can draw a couple walks and not be an automatic out. Another point to the argument is that he needs to make more contact with the ball. His BABIP (batting average on balls in play) is .305, which means when he put the ball in play he was hitting .305.
To not make things so long, the Brewers’ need postseason Arcia to show up everyday. In all, there is a very small amount of things he needs to fix, but without fixing them he could find himself in another disappointing season. Needless to say, the kid came though big time in the postseason, and has a lot more potential that can be brought out.