JP Arencibia is flirting with history and he should be trying like hell to avoid the very dubious distinction. I was looking at his overall stat line and things aren’t pretty. JPA is slashing 225/239/456 – good for a .297 wOBA. In short, he has been beyond terrible. Last season he slashed 233/275/435, .304 wOBA with a 4.8 BB%.
Arencibia had his early defenders (especially on Twitter) as the allure of home runs made everyone believe that JPA was bringing a lot of value to the team. I wrote a piece debunking that he had actually changed his approach under the tutelage of new hitting coach Chad Mottola as Pat Tabler and Buck Martinez would often discuss early in the season.
Read the piece here. Spoiler – he didn’t change at all.
There are currently 29 catchers in major league baseball who have a minimum of 100 PAs. J.P. Arencibia ranks #20 in wOBA, WAR and wRC+ and dead last in OBP and BB%. He checks in at #4 in terms of ISO (isolated slugging) but the power is the only glimmer of hope in terms of productivity.
One number that sticks out as absolutely abysmal is his 1.2% walk rate so far this season. Jeff Blair and Dirk Hayhurst mentioned on Baseball Central this afternoon that today is the one month anniversary of JP’s last base on balls. He has walked twice all season and has struck out 55 times – his BB/K is 0.04.
I did a search on Fangraphs from 2003-2013 to find out who had the lowest BB% of the past decade and I saw a name that many of you will recognize as one of the worst players of the last ten years. Yuniesky Betancourt has been the punch line of many jokes in the baseball stats world and deservedly so. In 1063 games Betancourt (at a premium position) has been worth 1.3 wins in his entire career.
Betancourt’s career slash line is 265/289/393 – .296 wOBA. He has a career 3.4 BB%. This season Arencibia has a .297 wOBA and his walk rate is over 2% lower this season than one of the worst offensive (or overall) players of the past decade.
Here is the worst single season BB% over the past decade:
*season total so far
J.P. Arencibia has turned himself into nearly an automatic out and one of the worst offensive (and defensive) players in baseball. How much longer can the Jays keep rolling this guy out there? Trading Travis d’Arnaud was probably a huge mistake given the glaring weakness the team has at the catcher position.
When looking for a shocking comparison I ran across a player with 1645 PAs and a 6.1 BB% where in 1058 PAs JPA has a 5.5 BB%. That player is none other than Tom Glavine. Yeah. Another unique comparison is a player who has a career 1.3 BB%, 32.3 K% (JPA, 1.2-33.7) and a career 238/248/388 line in 744 PAs. That player? Carlos Zambrano.
Yes I cherry picked the stats but it definitely puts things into perspective and has to end any debate that the Blue Jays should be looking in another direction for the teams backstop going forward. If you aren’t offering anything at the plate and are not either an elite game caller, pitch framer or stolen base stopper how exactly are you bringing tangible value to the team?
J.P. should be in his prime at age 27 and given how catchers naturally age poorer than other positions given the physical demands of the job he is not likely to suddenly improve overnight.
Maybe Carlos Zambrano is available?