Among my friends, my animosity for J.P Arencibia is well-known. It’s not that I dislike him as a person, I’m sure he’s a great guy; it’s just that he’s not very good at baseball. And seeing as how he plays for my favourite team, this is a bit of a problem for me. So I decided I was going to share my feelings on J.P. Arencibia and his overall lack of being good at baseball, but then my Blue Jays blogging brethren at Bluebird Banter beat me to it, and did a fine job with it. So could I let my grudge go, could I be at peace knowing there were others pushing the anti-Arencibia rhetoric? Absolutely not. But instead of just beating the J.P. sucks and this is why drum, I’ve decided to take a look at how J.P’s prodigious strikeout rate and utter disdain for walks looks in a historic context.
Before I get to that however, I will do J.P. the service of waxing poetically about him as a Toronto Blue Jay. Arencibia is representative of the dichotomy that is Toronto Blue Jays fans, he’s adored (generally by the more casual observer) and is the target of the wrath of those of us that put a great deal of emphasis on the little things, like production . J.P. seems like an affable enough guy, interacting with fans on Twitter, endearing himself to the media, hitting home runs, being a good-looking dude – but these are (mostly) things that do nothing to help the Toronto Blue Jays. These non-baseball related qualities that have made J.P. one of the least deserving “stars” in baseball cover up one major problem that I’ve already mentioned, Arencibia is not very good.
This brings us to now, and what I am labelling as JP’s historically inept 2013. Just how awful he has been is going largely unnoticed by a far too many Blue Jays fans for my liking. “Historically inept” is just hyperbole you say? Well yeah, but it’s also true. Through 42 games so far this season (not including Wednesday’s game) Arencibia has struck out 54 times, while walking just twice. His K:BB ratio is 27:1. You should pause here for a second to let that sink in. Arencibia is only walking once for every 27(!) times he’s struck out.
That sounds bad…but how bad is it really? Well let’s take a look! For ease of comparison’s sake I’m going to project those numbers over 130 games, approximately what J.P. will (unfortunately) end up playing this year. At his current pace he will strike out 167 times, and walk just 6 times.
Not once, ever, in the history of baseball has a player struck out over 100 times without walking at least 10. NEVER! In fact, only 14 times in the history of the game has a player struck out over 100 times and walked less than 20 times!
If we look at the current Zips projections, Arencibia is expected to finish the season with 155 strike outs and 20 walks. If we give him the benefit of the doubt (can he really increase his walk rate 5 fold for the rest of the season though?) he still merits inclusion on our list of 14, JP’s projected K:BB ratio would actually rank second, his 7.75:1 squeaks in just behind Juan Encarnacion’s ugly 8.07:1
Table via Baseball-Reference’s Play Index
Looking at this table makes Arencibia’s early season escapades that much more unbelievable. The worst ever K:BB ratio is currently held by Juan Encranacion at just over 8:1 and J.P. is currently sporting a rate of 27:1? Yikes.
I am fully aware that strikeouts and walks don’t mean everything, but the sheer ridiculous ratio that J.P. currently sports, combined with his lowly triple slash of .224/.239/.462 (even that buoyed by his ridiculous and unsustainable April power surge), make for one ugly hole in the line up.
What does this all mean for Mr. Arencibia? Well not much. The Blue Jays traded catcher of the future (and likely present given J.P.’s struggles) Travis D’Arnaud to the New York Mets as a part of the R.A. Dickey deal, and the next generation of Blue Jays catching prospects are seemingly a few years away. The Blue Jays did receive Josh Thole in the Dickey deal, and he’s currently raking for AAA Buffalo hitting .336/.411/.496 plus he has experience catching the Knuckleball.
But alas, it seems like the Blue Jays are committed to Henry Blanco as Dickey’s personal catcher, and just as committed (I wish I knew why) to Arencibia as the catcher every other day. So for the near future we will have to stick to our day dreaming of catching platoon in Toronto, and hope that the prodigious patience of teammates Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista (not to mention the sudden resurrection of patience in Adam Lind) somehow rub off on Aaron Cibia.
But in the meantime…who wants to see some dingers?