May 2, 2013; Toronto, ON, Canada; Toronto Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia (9) throws out the baserunner in the eighth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Rogers Centre. The Red Sox beat the Blue Jays 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

J.P. Arencibia's Historic(ally Awful) Season

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

Juan   Encarnacion 1999 14 113 8.07 0.255 0.287 0.450
Alex   Gonzalez 1999 15 113 7.53 0.277 0.308 0.430
Shawon   Dunston 1988 16 108 6.75 0.249 0.271 0.357
Benito   Santiago 1987 16 112 7.00 0.300 0.324 0.467
Ronny   Cedeno 2006 17 109 6.41 0.245 0.271 0.339
Mariano   Duncan 1992 17 108 6.35 0.267 0.292 0.389
Charley   Smith 1965 17 123 7.24 0.244 0.273 0.393
Angel   Berroa 2005 18 108 6.00 0.270 0.305 0.375
Mookie   Wilson 1983 18 103 5.72 0.276 0.300 0.367
Billy   Cowan 1964 18 128 7.11 0.241 0.268 0.404
Corey   Patterson 2002 19 142 7.47 0.253 0.284 0.392
Tony Armas 1981 19 115 6.05 0.261 0.294 0.480
Delmon   Young 2012 20 112 5.60 0.267 0.296 0.411
Miguel   Olivo 2011 20 140 7.00 0.224 0.253 0.388

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?

GIF compliments of me, cause I made it.

Tags: J.P. Arencibia Toronto Blue Jays

  • malna

    I don’t think A.J. Jiminez is that far away considering he is on the 40 man roster.

    • Travis Bateman

      I don’t consider anyone with just 105 At Bats above High A to be “close” but then again who knows!

      • Justin Jay

        When you’re desperate for a catcher, anybody who looks like they’re hitting the sh*t out of the ball looks good… You should hear Yankee fans crooning about Gary Sanchez. Hasn’t made it out of A ball yet and they wanted him up there when the season was starting.

    • BrettLawriesnewesttattoo

      the problem with Jimenez is his development time lost to TJ surgery and I believe he’s hurt again. he hasn’t played since May 13th. someone on Bluebird Banter said something about complications from TJ surgery.

  • David Dunn

    Does the organization not notice his pathetic defence? Never blocks the plate or throws away his mask( prett boy)…called timeout on his own pitcher halfway through his windup..constantly moves his target…refers to HIMSELF as a leader…I swear he wants to catch every day because he KNOWS how bad he is and doesn’t want to lose his position. The shine is wearing off on the decision makers in this organization…you can trade or DH him you know. Sal Fasano…where are you?

    • Travis Bateman

      His bat is “passable” as a catcher though, as a DH…not so much. The organization’s dedication to him is a bit perplexing though, His pitch framing/receiving is awful, especially when comparing him to the best in Jose Molina last night.

      • RyanMueller

        You are right his bat can only play CA. He really needs to learn how to take a pitch. Lawrie and Rasmus aren’t doing that much better, but at least they play very well in the field. I think that the coaching staff needs to take game calling away from him. Some questionable pitch selection this season.

        • Travis Bateman

          Colby strikes out a lot but actually walks around a league average rate (7.5%)…the difference with both Rasmus & Lawrie is the plus defense that they have compared to the awfulness that is J.P.

          • BrettLawriesnewesttattoo

            another problem for Rasmus is that he is just a quiet, awkward guy. he seems like he’s really hard on himself. he’s not the media darling that Arencibia and Lawrie are. and i think for ill-informed casual fans it’s easy to pick on the weird loner than the arrogant hockey loving jock who goes out of his way to ingratiate himself with the fanbase. and Lawrie gets a pass because of his nationality.

          • RyanMueller

            I think Rasmus saving grace with respect to K:BB rate is that Rasmus can actually draw a walk. He still strikes out far too much.

      • Justin Jay

        He can’t frame anything. Tell him to take a picture of a guy framing a pitch and frame it and he’ll thumb tack it to his wall. He doesn’t know how to use THE frame, A frame,… if it has “frame” involved, he can’t/won’t/doesn’t know how to do it. With a guy like Romero, that’s a killer, and I’m sure you noticed it too Travis. He sucks so much at following a pitch that I’ve literally seen him make a strike become a ball because he fooled the ump. Watch it some time. It’s maddening!

    • Rick Yu

      He’s still progressing as an everyday MLB catcher. 27 years old with a power bat, I can’t think of a prior jays catcher with his potential.

      • David Dunn

        I can…his name was Carlos Delgado. They moved him to first for the same reason, all smile…no brain. Dumber than a bag of hammers without a hint that progression is a possibility. In fact, we have the most dimwited team in baseball with Lind, Rasmus, Lawrie and your progressive J.P. The lights are on but nobody is home with this bunch.

  • McQ50

    spot on with this, JPA is an out machine, he needs to be moved from the 5 hole asap but really who else can bat there, Lawrie is hitting what .187 on the year, Rasmus could be moved up but what happens when we are facing a lefty. He needs to start taking walks. I haven’t liked JPA as an everyday catcher he doesn’t have what it takes to be there everyday. I’m also biased because he blocked me on twitter lol but thats besides the point

  • Justin Jay

    I like how JPA helps keep the clubhouse loose, but you’re right about his skills as a ballplayer. I think the power is real. If he was more selective, he may actually be a decent hitting catcher. Defensively he’s rough to watch and that’s where Thole may be better. However angry you are about JP though, Thole will be worse, even if he’s raking in AAA. JPA raked there too

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