It goes without saying the J.P. Arencibia has weathered a pretty rough season, and that’s really understating the truth of the matter. The end of the year could not come any quicker for the Toronto Blue Jays backstop, who has come under fire by fans, media, and generally any person with a pulse.
But before we get to that illustrious end, we have to first get through the few remaining games of the season, where we can continue to watch Arencibia hit new lows.
On Sunday, one such occasion hit, when manager John Gibbons sent shortstop Munenori Kawasaki to the plate to pinch hit for Arencibia with 2 outs and nobody one in the bottom of the 8th inning and the Blue Jays down two runs. The reality of the situation became much more apparent when the crowd reacted to the move, as captured in this Mike Wilner tweet.
— Mike Wilner (@Wilnerness590) September 15, 2013
It says a lot when a 32-year-old, light-hitting shortstop with a career OPS of .578 and one career home run is sent up to pinch hit for a known power threat with 20 home runs under his belt this season.
The choice wasn’t made from a power standpoint though. With the team down two runs, Gibbons turned to Kawasaki because the team needed base-runners. Kawasaki, with a .324 On-Base Percentage, represented a significantly better chance of being that base-runner than did Arencibia, who is sitting on a .236 On-Base Percentage, which is the single-worst mark among hitters qualifying for the batting title in 2013, a good 25 points lower than the next closest candidate. His 18 walks have him ranked 292nd in baseball.
In baseball terms, it was the right decision, but it was also an indication at just how far Arencibia has fallen. It was also not a surprise that Arencibia chose to duck reporters after the game. No one wants to talk when the manager shows he no longer has enough rope for you and your confidence is in the gutter. And given his reactions to the media throughout the season, it was likely in his best interest not to do so.
Given his rapid decline this season, the Blue Jays will have to see what they can do with Arencibia in 2014, and what alternatives may present themselves to the team, both internally and in free agency.
It’s obvious that the current situation is no longer workable, for either party.