I'm going to be honest with you, I just finished reading this Globe and Mail Article on how the catchers spot for the Jays is J.P. Arencibia's to lose and was inspired to write a blog about why Arencibia is over rated and will most likely flop. I was armed with all sorts of ideas to build my case like his poor OBP in the minors, high strike out rate, inflated stats from playing in Las Vegas, he's Rod Barajas in John Buck's clothing, his poor game calling and defensive abilities etc. Then I did some research to build my case.
If you don't know by now, Baseball-Reference.com is the shit for baseball statistics, so my first visit was there to look at Arencibia's minor league numbers. Sure enough I found a career OBP of .319, however this wasn't as bad as I was expecting, especially when you consider his .284 OBP in 2009 bringing down his overall average. Also, he had a .359 OBP last year. But this was Vegas right and his BABIP of .312 was on the high side (which really it isn't given past results of .325, .344, and .311). Now I'm thinking a .319 OBP is probably achievable in the majors, and with his power potential, that's not terrible.
High Strike Out Rate
Really I'd be a bit of a hypocrite if I harped too much about someones high strike out rate, because in the past I've consistently argued that strike outs are just another form of an out and if they are getting on base at an acceptable rate, it's not a big deal if they strike out a lot. However, if a player strikes out a lot in the minors, that could mean that there is a hole in his swing that major league pitching will expose. Only time will tell here.
Inflated Las Vegas Stats
Arencibia had a monster season in 2010, but who doesn't when they play in the PCL league and especially Vegas. Well, interestingly enough, Arencibia had the highest OPS (.986) of any of his Vegas teammates with regular playing time, this must count for something right? Then I looked at his splits for 2010 and found this:
Arencibia was actually a better hitter on the road last season, yes it is still other PCL ballparks, but in my mind this removes some of the worry that his numbers were a direct result of his environment, and after all, he did win the league MVP.
Defense and Game Calling
This may be his Achilles heel, however scouting reports vary on his abilities behind the plate and Baseball America believes his defense is improving, he's still young and he did throw out 33% of runners last year. Since this is a building year for the Jays they have time to work on his abilities and find out if his future is behind the plate.
To make a long story even longer...
I'm a lot more positive about Arencibia's future then I was a few hours ago. I still think he's a long way from a sure thing, but it should be fun to watch and find out.