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An insane prediction regarding Oswaldo Arcia

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Oswaldo Arcia has hit 34 homers in his first 200 major league games. What lies ahead for the Minnesota Twins outfielder?

Oswaldo Arcia
Oswaldo Arcia
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Oswaldo Arcia made his major league debut with the Minnesota Twins in 2013. At the time, I filed this report:

Oswaldo Arcia can simply mash. Overcoming the effects of a 2011 elbow injury, he dominated the pitching-oriented Florida State League in the first half of ’12, posting a +28 percent OPS, 145 wRC+. Moved up to Double-A at mid-season, he performed even better with a +32 percent OPS, 162 wRC+. Scouting reports were as positive as the numbers, pointing to superior bat speed and power. He’s also made strides with his strike zone judgment, and doesn’t present a strong platoon split. Arcia has a good arm but doesn’t run well and fits best in right field. He’ll need some Triple-A time but Twins fans should look forward to his bat. Grade B+.

He didn't get much of that Triple-A time, just 38 games for Rochester in '13, though he was devastatingly effective at .312/.426/.594 in those 38 games. He spent most of '13 in the major leagues and hit .251/.304/.430 for the Twins, with 14 homers but an unattractive 23/117 BB/K ratio in 351 at-bats for an wRC+ of 102. Contact was an issue but his overall performance was credible for a 22-year-old with little Triple-A exposure.

2014 was similar: excellent numbers at Rochester (.312/.369/.597 in 22 games), good power but problems with contact in the majors (.231/.298/.452, 20 homers, 31 walks, 127 strikeouts in 327 at-bats).

There were some complaints from Twins fans about Arcia's strikeout problems and defensive limitations, but his wRC+ was up to 109 this year and I think there are lots of reasons for optimism. Key points:


***Arcia has now played 200 major league games with a line of .241/.302/.441, wRC+106. That may not sound terrific, but remember his age: he's still just 23.  In 162-game notation, he's hit 27 doubles and 28 homers, substantial power for a young player in the modern game.

***Arcia has just 60 games of Triple-A and 69 games of Double-A on his resume. His strikeout rate in the high minors was a combined 22%; it's 31% in the majors. Having growing pains in the majors is not a surprise, and it wouldn't take a huge amount of improvement with contact for him to take a large step forward.

***He has a very sharp platoon split: he's hit just .224/.266/.347, wRC+69 against left-handed pitching but a massively better .249/.319/.490, wRC+124 against right-handers. He did have a platoon split in the minors but it was not nearly as pronounced. It is plausible that he can make at least marginal improvements in that department.

***So far there is only one sabermetric projection for 2015 available for Arcia, but it is fairly optimistic: Steamer at Fangraphs projects Arcia with a .259/.321/.466 line next year, wRC+121, with 23 homers in 130 games and a fWAR of 2.2.

***From a broader point of view, Arcia's early-career Sim Scores are quite interesting. His career to this point is similar to those of Jim King (a decent power hitter with the White Sox and Senators in the early 60s), Chris Young, Travis Snider, Dayan Viciedo, Danny Walton (flash-in-the-pan player for the Brewers in the early 70s), Laynce Nix, Dave Kingman, Willie Montanez, Ralph Kiner, and John Milner.

Talk about a broad range of possible outcomes: there's a total bust (Walton), a Hall of Famer (Kiner), several workable role players, a couple of nice (although very different) regulars in Montanez and Young, and whatever the hell Dave Kingman was.

So what can we conclude?

Arcia

photo by Bruce Kluckhohn, USA Today Sports

Arcia's power is quite genuine, he's young enough to develop in several different directions, and one of the top projection systems predicts a moderate breakout in 2015. If he can improve against lefties, he can be a very productive regular outfielder, perhaps more than that at the top end. If he can't, his power would still make him a valuable role player.

That's the objective analysis. My subjective opinion is that Arcia's pure hitting skills will end up being better than we have any logical reason to expect.

In fact, I'll go ahead and make an Insane Prediction: Oswaldo Arcia will eventually cut back on the strikeouts, boost his walk rate slightly, improve substantially against lefties, and raise his batting average and OBP without much loss of isolated power. He'll surprise everyone and hit .300 at least once, make at least one All Star Team, and finish with a career line something like .270/.340/.480, damn good in the modern game.

Take that for what you will: opinion and instinct, not fact. It may very well be another insane prediction along the lines of the one I made for Chris Carter.

arcia

Oswaldo Arcia, photo by James O. Watson, Getty Images