2013 Blue Jays Reviews: J.P. Arencibia
Sep 24, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Toronto Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia (9) throws down to first base to get out Baltimore Orioles left fielder Nate McLouth (not shown) in the ninth inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Blue Jays defeated the Orioles 3-2 in ten innings. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
Name: J.P. Arencibia
This being his third year as the starting catcher there were no huge expectations of Arencibia. There was hope that his defense would improve, especially if he was going to be catching R.A. Dickey and his knuckleball. The team showed a tremendous amount of faith…for the first game of the season. After that we turned to the defensive minded Henry Blanco and eventually Josh Thole. The Blue Jays weren’t fooling themselves into thinking they had a great defensive catcher but I am sure they expected more than a .988 fielding percentage from a catcher that was playing for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. Arencibia took a huge step backwards and the faith the organization has in him is beginning to fade. 20 HR with an OPS around .730 and a middling batting average (about .230) were expected. At least he got the dingers…
J.P. did miss some time with shoulder and knee issues in July and August but nothing noteworthy that would explain his huge dip in production:
2013/08/10Missed 2 games (right knee injury).
2013/08/07Right knee injury, day-to-day.
2013/07/03Missed 1 game (shoulder injury).
2013/07/02Shoulder injury, day-to-day.
Can you really call it production? J.P. ranked last amongst ALL Major League batters with an OBP of .227 (the next closest qualifier, Alcides Escobar, had an OBP of .259. He reached base in less than one-quarter of ALL his plate appearances. His 21 homers were second best of his career (in 474 AB), behind the 23 he blasted in 2011 (in 443 AB). Looking closer, even his homer run rate has dropped. His OPS was a staggering .592 which ranked him 4th last in the majors for batting qualifiers behind Darwin Barney, Adeiny Hechavarria and Alcides Escobar. His 148 strikeouts were by far the team leader. Put that with 18 walks and a .194 Batting Average and you have a brutal offensive player. Perhaps one of the worst the Blue Jays have employed as a starting 9 contributor.
It could very well be an aberration or this could be the player J.P. is. No one disputes his dedication to the organization but I do doubt his ability to be a starting catcher in this league. Heck, I would take George Kottaras over Arencibia. At least his defense is decent. Arencibia is arbitration eligible and the Blue Jays most likely will qualify him but this means nothing to his future with the team. Look for Alex Anthopoulos to bring in some veterans to push J.P.. They may give him a chance because of past numbers but his leash will be short. if he doesn’t improve markedly in all facets of his game this may have been his last year as our starting catcher.