Within the small sample universe, Arcia has been murdering baseballs all over the field. Baseballs. Murdered. Dead. In that time, Arcia has jacked six home runs -- the second most in the American League, only behind Houston’s Chris Carter, who has suddenly become Casey from Mudville (pre-poem) since the beginning of July. But it is not just wind-aided fly balls that have drifted beyond the outfield wall that has propelled Arcia’s August, according to ESPN/trumedia his Hard-Hit Average is .241, the ninth-best in the league over the last 21 days. He is crushing it to the core.
It has been his ability to drive the ball with total disregard for human life that has made his plate appearances “must see” events, as far as “must see” events go this season anyway. At the same time, it has been his inability to make contact with the ball for the bulk of the season that has come at a heavy price to his overall numbers. While he has deposited a ball in the seats in every 20 at-bats, he’s whiffed in just under every three.
Arcia’s strength has been prevalent throughout his professional career. In the minors he displayed a more balanced approached at the plate with less of a leg-lift stride that allowed him to use all fields. Of course, Arcia has eschewed this style for his prefered all-or-nothing pull approach at the major league level that has paid off well as of late.
Take a look at his follow through earlier this season:
His front side opens far too much -- particularly on a pitch that was middle-in in the example above. This pitch was an off-speed that Arcia did not stay back on and flew open in a failed attempt to yank it on to Nicollet Mall. If he continued to do this, he would see a reduced coverage on the outer-half of the plate (which he did) and this is something that can been seen throughout his at bats early in the season.
As I pointed out in June, because Arcia drops his hands, he has already shown a weakness to fastballs up in the zone and the Twins were trying to fix that issue as well. By the end of July, he was hitting a paltry .219/.299/.383. Needless to say, here was a lot to work on for the talented young slugger and, if his August numbers have anything to say about it, he appears to have had turned a corner.
While Arcia’s focus may be on pulling the ball with ferocity, manager Ron Gardenhire has said that he would like the outfielder to temper his swing instead of trying to hit the ball “8,000 miles”. Though some may interpret that as an attempt to convert Arcia from a power hitter into a punch-and-judy slapper, the reality is the Twins were looking for him to stay in on the pitch in order to drive the ball. Since August 1, this message apparently has resonated with Arcia and he has remained closed instead of flying open:
This practice should be enable him to handle left-handed pitchers, who up to this point have been the bane of his existence.
The 23-year-old Arcia is making progress at the plate and it could spell more offense for the Twins in 2015.