Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Does A Strong September Mean Big Things For Oswaldo Arcia?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The Twins’ Oswaldo Arcia finished the season strong, hitting .263 with 6 HR in September (and 15 HR in the second half). While we generally don’t want to put too much stock into September numbers, given the level of competition, it’s promising all the same. Of course, he still posted a 30.7% strikeout rate for the month so it’s not all positive.

Strikeouts weren’t supposed to be a major issue entering the Majors, with a 21.2% mark in the minors since 2011. However his first 788 PA have yielded a 31.0% mark, so it’s hard to imagine a huge rebound coming. He simply chases way too many pitches out of the strike zone, with a 38.3% O-Swing%.

That said, we would still expect a slight improvement in his .231 average. Generally young players struggle against anything but fastballs, but look at his BABIP by pitch category from last season:

  • Hard – .239
  • Breaking – .359
  • Offspeed – .326

Overall he owned a 21.5% line drive rate and .292 BABIP. Even without an improvement in his strikeout rate, simply better luck and maintaining his power (which we will get to) should yield an average in the .245-.255 range. It’s not great, but it’s not terrible either.

If he can improve the strikeout rate as well? Than you are looking at .260+ and, given his .310 average in the minors since 2011, that’s not unreasonable.

He did struggle mightily against southpaws last season, so a potential platoon is something else to consider:

  • vs. LHP – .198/.261/.313
  • vs. RHP – .249/.321/.527

In the minors, while he was better against righties, he did hit .265 against southpaws. He should get more of an opportunity to prove that he can thrive.

The other big question is in regards to his power, which came courtesy of a 19.4% HR/FB. His average distance on non-groundballs of 278.416 certainly helps to back up the number. With 34 HR over his first 723 AB, there is little reason to question his ability. As long as he gets regular AB, something that he should (at least against right-handed pitching), he is one of the few players in the game who could surpass 30 HR.

The bottom line with Arcia is if he is going to be able to hit for enough of an average to be a viable option. Even if he doesn’t improve his strikeout rate he has the potential, based on his BABIP against “hard” pitches in 2014. Given his track record he also could improve his strikeout rate, even if it’s marginally, bringing his average at or above .250.

Given the power, that’s going to be enough. While he may not be a top option, he’s going to be a cheap source of power for 2015 with the potential to hit for a significantly better average.

Sources – Fangraphs, Minor League Central, Brooks Baseball, Baseball Heat Maps

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