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  • How Can Arcia Bust His Epic Slump?

    After finishing 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in Sunday's sweep-clinching win over the White Sox, Oswaldo Arcia ran his hitless streak up to 31 consecutive at-bats. As Phil Miller noted in his post-game wrap-up, that's eight short of the franchise record.

    For all his talent and explosiveness, Arcia has proven to be a slump-prone hitter, with a tendency to look totally lost during extended stretches at the plate.

    Right now, he's mired in what I have to imagine is one of the worst funks of his life. It's not just the lack of hits -- it's the intensely bad at-bats. Seemingly every other plate appearance involves three or four pitches, a few non-competitive swings, and a strikeout or a pop fly.

    Arcia is a good hitter. He conquered the minor leagues with remarkable ease and has certainly demonstrated the characteristics of a quality MLB slugger. Why isn't that showing through right now?


    This isn't a situation like Jason Kubel, where a prolonged slump was evidence of diminished bat speed and declining ability. Arcia is only 23 and strong as a bull. Clearly, a big part of this is mental, but I wonder if that's all it is.

    I'm reminded of a tweet posted by my colleague, John Bonnes, back on June 10th:



    I remember reading it at the time and thinking, "Overreact much there, Johnny Boy?" I mean, this was Arcia's second start since the ankle injury. But sure enough, it was only the beginning of what has turned into a three-week cold spell for the young outfielder.

    So maybe there's something to that after all. Early in the season, Arcia had missed almost two months with a wrist injury, but he came back red-hot in late May, batting .378 with four doubles, four homers and 12 RBI in his first 11 games off the DL.

    I was at Target Field for the last of those games, in which he sprained the ankle when he was picked off at second base after a double. It was a gut-punch, because at that point Arcia was the star of the offense; he'd smashed a grand slam earlier that night. He was frustrated and in obvious pain as he limped off the field.

    I was surprised to see him back the next night as a pinch-hitter. The Twins had seemingly dodged a bullet. But since rolling his ankle, Arcia is 2-for-39 (.051) with 15 strikeouts in 47 plate appearances.

    Could the ankle be the culprit for his ongoing issues? Has the wrist flared up again? Or is he really just stuck in his own head?

    Whatever the case, his slump is headed toward historic proportions and the Twins are going to have to figure something out. They've already given him a couple days off for a "mental break," and that appears to have helped little.

    Perhaps some extended rest would help get him back to 100 percent physically. Or maybe a demotion to Triple-A is in order. That seems like an unappealing option, since you'd like to see Arcia fight through this thing in the big leagues and there aren't any clearly superior alternatives available. But I do wonder how much longer Ron Gardenhire is going to be able to tolerate these hideous at-bats.

    What do you think? What should the Twins do about the struggling, vitally important young outfielder?



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    Comments 32 Comments
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      This, again, was not hard to see coming with his rapidly escalating strikeout rate last year. Let him work through it, that's part of what rebuilding is - patience with kids who have shown what they can do.
    1. DK's Avatar
      DK -
      Am I looking at the same Arcia that everyone else is? Yes, he has power when he makes solid contact. However, that solid contact is very streaky. I actually see him as a .200 hitter that may get 20 homeruns. He has some real holes in his swing that major league pitchers recognize. I fear his plate discipline may not get a whole lot better. With some good minor league hitters coming up, why not put him on the trading block? If he is as good as everyone believes he should bring some real value.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by DK View Post
      Am I looking at the same Arcia that everyone else is? Yes, he has power when he makes solid contact. However, that solid contact is very streaky. I actually see him as a .200 hitter that may get 20 homeruns. He has some real holes in his swing that major league pitchers recognize. I fear his plate discipline may not get a whole lot better. With some good minor league hitters coming up, why not put him on the trading block? If he is as good as everyone believes he should bring some real value.
      He's 23. Most players his age are in Double-A or Triple-A. Remember what Carlos Gomez looked like at the plate when he was 23?
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      I don't have a problem with guys swinging out of their shoes. As others have mentioned, Carlos Gomez does it, half the Blue Jays lineup does it. You can do it and be s uccessful but you have to pick your spots and there is no reason to throw Arcia a strike as long as he keeps swinging at crap out of the zone. I don't know if its a pitch recognition issue or what but his terrible count management is a much bigger problem than the ferocity of his swing IMO.
    1. TwinsFan4Ever's Avatar
      TwinsFan4Ever -
      Hitting coaches, like pitching coaches, golf coaches, etc... server as psychologists a good amount of time. You can tell a guy to slow down his swing (like many have done with my golf swing to no avail) but I'm sure there are others in his ear and head including other players on the team. I would say maybe a lack of communication but Colabello had the same issue. Bruno seems like a good guy and he was a good hitter in his own right but you almost need a psychology degree to do that job.
    1. Dantes929's Avatar
      Dantes929 -
      If not for options I could see a revolving door for him and Colabello. They gain confidence in AAA and ride it for a while in the bigs. There is the benefit of sending him down. I am in the camp of he swings too hard. His minor league numbers show very high batting average with mid teen home run power. That is the guy I want to see in the majors. 450 foot homers look nice but count for no more than the 380 foot ones. He should do what Cuddyer finally did when he was slumping bad and that is take a lot more pitches. Even if he strikes out never swinging the bat. Right now pitchers only need to throw one strike at most to get him out. Show a willingness to walk and he will start to get better pitches to hit.
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      Both Colabello and Arcia have had their option used for this year, so that wouldn't be a problem. Playing Colabello in right field would be a problem and I do think his 15 minutes of fame are over. I also agree that Arcia seems to have morphed into an "all or nothing at all" swinger, instead of someone capable of hitting .300.
    1. mlhouse's Avatar
      mlhouse -
      I was at Saturday's game and he hit the ball really hard several times. It was just right at someone or hit to the deepest part of the field.

      His struggle right now is against LHP and the Twins should show patience and develop the ability to work with struggling young players at the major league level. Without that, what are we going to do with Sano and Buxton, Rosario and others when they come up? Continue to bounce them back and forth if they go through a slump?
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dantes929 View Post
      450 foot homers look nice but count for no more than the 380 foot ones.
      Fly ball distance does matter. The guys who hit longer fly balls will hit more home runs. Its why a guy like Dozier, sadly, probably won't keep pace with Jose Bautista very long, even though both players have 15 HRs atm.

      Also Joe Mauer cca. 2009
    1. TheDean's Avatar
      TheDean -
      Quote Originally Posted by stringer bell View Post
      Both Colabello and Arcia have had their option used for this year, so that wouldn't be a problem. Playing Colabello in right field would be a problem and I do think his 15 minutes of fame are over. I also agree that Arcia seems to have morphed into an "all or nothing at all" swinger, instead of someone capable of hitting .300.
      I agree. I've been one of CC's biggest fans, but his ceiling is a powerful but streaky, high-quality replacement player who should be a bench bat, DH, or 1B. Although there are varying opinions on Ozzie's ceiling, it's certainly higher than CC's. In my view, you need to keep the best talent on the 25-man, if possible. Only dip into the replacement reserve when you're forced to by injury.

      That said, I'm not necessarily in agreement with those who say that Arcia needs to play every single game. In a slump like this, maybe he needs a day or two off and get a fresh look, especially if you're facing tough lefties. Parms is the only other RF option, but he's been pretty hot lately, and I think it's worth it to get Arcia's head right and avoid having to make him pack his bags for Rochester.
    1. TheDean's Avatar
      TheDean -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dantes929 View Post
      If not for options I could see a revolving door for him and Colabello. They gain confidence in AAA and ride it for a while in the bigs. There is the benefit of sending him down. I am in the camp of he swings too hard. His minor league numbers show very high batting average with mid teen home run power. That is the guy I want to see in the majors. 450 foot homers look nice but count for no more than the 380 foot ones. He should do what Cuddyer finally did when he was slumping bad and that is take a lot more pitches. Even if he strikes out never swinging the bat. Right now pitchers only need to throw one strike at most to get him out. Show a willingness to walk and he will start to get better pitches to hit.
      I like the comparison to Cuddy. I don't like the promotion/demotion idea, but the options shouldn't matter since they've both used theirs for the year, so they can go up and down as much as they'd like.

      Maybe someone can verify, but I think it's possible that his numbers in the minors (especially below AA) profile differently because he was a very different player in some sense back then. He played all over the OF, including CF, and his bat matched that. As he advanced, I think he gained a lot of weight and morphed into more of a prototypical corner OF power hitter. A bit speculative, but that could have something to do with his struggles if it constituted an appreciable change in approach relatively recently.
    1. Dantes929's Avatar
      Dantes929 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Willihammer View Post
      Fly ball distance does matter. The guys who hit longer fly balls will hit more home runs. Its why a guy like Dozier, sadly, probably won't keep pace with Jose Bautista very long, even though both players have 15 HRs atm.

      Also Joe Mauer cca. 2009
      Agree to disagree. Powerful guys that square up the ball more often hit more homers but anyone that squares it up more often gets more hits. Mauer is a great case. I never expected him to hit homers like 2009 once he left the dome because he was hitting 360 foot fly balls that were barely clearing the fence. If he was hitting those homers 450 feet and batting .200 from swinging so hard I would give him the same recommendation to tone it down. Dozier probably won't keep pace with Bautista and shouldn't try to. Same applies to Arcia. Clearing the fence by 100 feet shouldn't come at the expense of 70 points of batting average.
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