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Nationals Claim Twins Middle Infielder

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 09:48 PM
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Winter Meeting Discussions: Improving the Twins

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 09:48 PM
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Article: Where Does Pelfrey Fit In?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 09:20 PM
His name invariably elicits a visceral response from Twins fans. When talking about how the 2015 pitching staff will shake out, nobody se...
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Are Arcia's Problems Self-Correcting?

Attached Image: 1twin041613.jpg After reading Parker Hageman’s recent analysis1 on Oswaldo Arcia’s approach
and swing, I’ve been thinking about it since, particularly as Arcia’s slump is reaching toward extreme extents.

I think Parker is spot on in his critique of Arcia’s over-aggressive, indiscriminate approach at the plate. Past success swinging at first pitch fastballs has led to present adjustments by pitchers to throw off speed early, but not- so far- to any counter adjustment by Arcia. I also think the swing-out-of-your-shoes approach, in combination with poor plate discipline, is problematic. I do think these have both been recent trends and not career-long issues. A quick glance at his 2014 spray chart2 supports the aggressive, hard swinging approach observations. A heavy propensity to pull, including all four home runs, is evident. Compare this to his spray charts from 20133 which demonstrate more even distribution. Just looking at line-drives, in 2013, 10 of 33 counted line-drives went left of center. Whereas in 2014, we’re looking at 2 of 17. Add home runs: 2013, 5 of 14 to left of center; 2014, 0 of 4. The higher percentage of well-hit balls in 2013 indicate a more balanced and better disciplined approach than what we have seen in 2014, particularly over the past couple weeks.

As for his swing mechanics, I’m not too concerned about the hands drop pointed out by Roy Smalley and Parker. Because he starts with his hands so high in his stance, they’re going to have to come down. If your hands are up by your ears, you can’t go straight to the POC (point of contact) or you’ll only ever hit ground balls. From the videos I watched of Arcia hitting this year4, last year5, and in minor league seasons at New Britain6 and Ft. Myers7, I could not discern a significant change in the drop of his hands during the load stage of his swing.

I suppose there is logic to the notion, which Parker points out, that with a lower load point with his hands, a hitter may be more susceptible to strikes higher in the zone. The video clip of Arcia he included demonstrates this on a one swing sample size as Arcia puts what appears to be a beautiful and well-timed swing under the pitch. However, I think the statistics cited regarding Arcia’s high swing and miss at high strikes rate, are just as likely explained by his overall lack of discipline at the plate (a lot of bad guessing and not getting a good pitch to hit), rather than an issue with his swing. And, as others have pointed out in the comment boards, Ted Williams- probably the greatest student and teacher of hitting ever- loaded his hands low8 and did not struggle with high strikes9.

While I didn’t notice much difference in his swing from last season to this, there was one significant difference between his swing in the minors and what it is now: the high step. In the minors, there was a toe tap and slide-stride with the knee bending only slightly as the hips cock in. Both this season and last, his stride is preceded by a high, almost Puckett-esque step. I don’t dislike the high step. It assures a full load to the back leg and a powerful weight transfer moving forward. It effects more coil in the hips and more power in their rotational ‘snap’. Many excellent hitters have utilized it without expensing balance or batting average.

I think if there has been a definite exaggeration in the drop of Arcia’s hands during his load (which I couldn't see in the video I watched) it has probably come in conjunction with the high step. While I don’t think either one is problematic, I do think, in Arcia’s case, they might be indicative of something that is: wanting to hit a jack in every PA.

If this is what is at the root of his recent extended slump, then it is an uncomplicated fix and will inevitably mend itself. When you go 0 for the week, you have to come back to balance, contact and a disciplined approach. I think Arcia’s track record, particularly in the minors, indicates he is a disciplined hitter. Though his low-ish walk rates and high-ish K-rates might suggest otherwise, his ability to consistently hit over .300 indicates some level of swing selection. I think he needs to relax and trust that the quality of his swin, and his strength will produce good power, and the resultant balance will yield a higher average and on-base rate.

It seems as though the Twins coaching staff has for years pushed a patient, disciplined approach to batting. I think they’ve pushed the approach to a fault. While I think the philosophy is best for most hitters, I think it has been harmful to a few exceptionally talented players to come through the Twins' system- Delmon Young and Carlos Gomez in particular. Gomez, especially, I don’t think would have become the player he is if he had stayed in Minnesota, as much as I wish he would have.

Fortunately, while Oz may have earned some comparisons to the aforementioned players in terms of batting approach, I do think his true self as a hitter is more in line with what the Twins seem to preach. Maybe not totally in line, but enough that I think he will eventual excel here. I hope so. He is far and away the most exciting player on the roster, a la pimping triples off the wall in a ski mask. I hope he works through his slump with the Twins. I really do not want to see him sent to back to 'Chester.

Sources
1. http://twinsdaily.co...uite-There-Yet)
2. http://www.fangraphs...type=battedball
3. http://www.fangraphs...vs1=ALL&vs2=ALL
4. A.
B.
5. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AO2RRUTOSX8
6. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0FpJdxq_OE
7. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kh_Ka3TkyHY
8.http://www.chrisolea...ams_C_001_C.gif
9. http://2.bp.blogspot...strike_zone.gif


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