Monday, February 9, 2015

Twins by position: Left field

Oswaldo Arcia has struck out in more than
30 percent of his major league plate appearances.
Oswaldo Arcia took a step forward in 2014, but that step still left him a bit shy of being an established, reliable major league regular.

His slash line of .231/.300/.452, while good enough for an OPS+ of 108 (or 8 percent above league average), was marred by an ugly walk-strikeout ratio of 31 BB, 127 K. Coupled with what has become his customary shoddy defense, it's difficult to see that he was any real help last year,

The Twins are shifting him to left field this year so Torii Hunter can play right, and I have seen suggestions from the Twins front office that he should be better in left than in right, apparently in part because they believe he was (my term, not theirs) spooked by the overhang.)

But the Target Field overhang doesn't seem like that big a deal to me. It certainly shouldn't be an issue in road games, Arcialooked pretty poor in left when he played there in 2013. (He was playing left field when a foul ball hit him in the head.)

In truth, I don't know of any reason for Arcia to be as poor defensively as he is, but I don't know why Delmon Young is as bad as he is either.

There are three obvious, and significant, areas for Arcia to improve:

  • Defense. See above.
  • Strike zone judgment. This piece by MLB,com's Jesse Sanchez suggests that, as with Kennys Vargas in Puerto Rico, this has been a point of emphasis for Arcia in winter ball (in his case, in his native Venezuela).
  • Hitting left-handers. Arcia's OPS last year against righties was .848; against southpaws, a dismal .574. 

Arcia turns 24 in May, so there's room for growth. Right now, he's looking like a Latin version of Jason Kubel: A lefty best fit for DH duties and a candidate for a platoon. Kubel was a useful player for a few years, but the Twins didn't do a particularly good job of highlighting his strengths and masking his flaws. Maybe Arcia can at least negate some of his flaws. This year may go a long way toward determining that.

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