The Milwaukee Brewers have been exceeding everyones expectations so far this season as they sit atop the NL Central with a 47-40 record. The young talent on the roster has been a huge factor in Milwaukees success this season. 22 year old shortstop Orlando Arcia has been at the heart of it all. His great defense comes to no surprise to fans after hearing about the rave over his excellent skills in the field. He has also began to find his stroke after struggling for his short tenure with the team last year and a slow start offensively to the 2017 campaign. Arcia has the talent to help make Milwaukee a top contender in the NL Central division for years to come.
Arcia first signed as a Brewer when he was only 16 years old as a free agent out of Venezuela. He was 16 years old playing on the Helena Brewers rookie ball team. At age 18 he had already made his way to Low-A ball where he played a full season with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. The following season he advanced to High-A Brevard County and also played a full season there and immediately shot up to AA Biloxi the next season. He absolutely breezed through the minors.
As a 20 year old, Arcia was nominated as the Minor League defensive player of the year in 2015 at AA Biloxi. He fielded at a .978 rate and contributed to a whopping 82 double plays that season in over 1000 innings played. Arcia earned a callup in August of 2016, just before his 22nd birthday, to help with a struggling Brewer infield defensive wise. Jonathan Villar was a disaster at short committing 17 errors in 108 games. Arcia came up and fit right in with the team contributing a .981 fielding percentage and committing only five errors in 53 games. His hitting was not excellent however as he struggled mightily in his first season in the majors as he only managed a .219 batting average and 4 homeruns to go along with 47 strikeouts.
Arcia is currently the youngest shortstop in the league at 22.9 years old. It is very rare to see a player so young playing everyday for a first place team and contribute as much as Arcia has. His defense continues to be top notch game in and game out. He has been a bit off pace when it comes to making errors as he has made 11 in roughly 660 innings of play. However he leads the league in many impressive defensive categories. He leads the National League in double plays turned by a shortstop, first in range factor/9 innings and first in zone runs. Many other advanced stats show that Arcia is excellent at saving Milwaukee runs by making excellent plays at shortstop.
I compared Arcia to the best defensive shortstop in the league, Brandon Crawford. He is currently fielding at a ridiculous .993 fielding percentage. I only used numbers from the 2017 season as Crawford has been in the league since 2011. He has two gold gloves to his name also. League average range factor per nine innings is about 4.16. Crawford is at 4.25 while Arcia is at 5.20. This means Arcia is creating more outs than Crawford so far this season. Crawfords Rdrs is only at a 1 while Arcia is at 4. This stat means Arcia is saving more runs than Crawford is defensively. Am I saying Arcia is currently better than Crawford? Not necessarily but the numbers do not lie.
What’s even better about Arcia this season has been his bat. He is up to a .295 batting average and has shown some power belting 8 homeruns. He has hit in the eight spot all year for Craig Counsell and has finally began to show some consistency at the plate. In 75 more at bats this year, Arcia has struck out 53 times as compared to last years 47. He hasn’t quite become more selective at the plate as he only has 16 walks, but he has become much better at making contact with the ball. He would often times go down on 3-5 pitches in his at bats last season. His speed is nothing to scoff at either. He has hustled out an inside the park homerun this season and is not afraid to swipe a bag every once in awhile.
At such a young age Arcia has all of the tools and potential to become one of the best shortstops in the game and help lead Milwaukee into their promising future.