Swinging For The Fences

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Oswaldo Arcia's all-or-nothing approach at the plate has gotten him into a slump despite his above-average power. Who else in the major leagues is collecting extra base hits at a rate as high as Arcia?

Oswaldo Arcia broke into the major leagues last season, both because of his merit but also because of an early paternity list trip by Wilkin Ramirez, and then later when Darin Mastroianni was placed on the 15-day disabled list with an ankle injury.

For those that weren't familiar with Arcia, two things became apparent very quickly. He would swing hard, and he would swing often. For his career, Arcia has swung at 38.3% of pitches outside the zone, 71.1% of pitches inside the zone, and 52.3% of all pitches. The major league average for 2013 and 2014 has been around 31%, 65%, and 46%, respectively, showing that Arcia is not interested in taking a walk. His desire to swing hard can be shown not only by his career .179 ISO (isolated power, which is slugging percentage minus batting average) which easily tops the average major leaguer's ~.140 ISO, but also from the eye test. Almost every swing, Arcia wants to put the ball into orbit.

He's spent a good chunk of this season on the disabled list, and when he returned he hit a hot streak. Starting on May 26th, his first five games back saw him hit three doubles and a pair of home runs. It sure seemed that Arcia would be looking to capitalize on his solid rookie season.

However, he's been mired in a slump for quite a while now. He's been hitless in 8 consecutive games (29 at-bats), and has tallied only two hits since June 6th, a stretch of 13 games (43 at-bats). It appears as though opposing pitchers have figured out that Arcia wants to hit, and in turn they've been throwing him more pitches outside of the zone in the hopes that he would get himself out.

Arcia's all-or-nothing approach also leads to another interesting byproduct; his high percentage of extra base hits relative to his total hits. For most of this season, nearly half of Arcia's hits have gone for extra bases. He currently sits at 11 singles, 5 doubles, 1 triple, and 4 home runs, meaning that 48% of his hits have yielded multiple bases. I felt that this was an extraordinarily high number, so I decided to see if any other players in the major leagues could match or even top Arcia.

When I first started with the Twins, I was imagining that we'd see someone else with a bunch of power atop the list, such as Brian Dozier or Josh Willingham. However, both guys are lacking in doubles, as you'll see below, and that has hurt their extra base hit percentage. This table includes all position players with at least 40 at-bats this season prior to Tuesday's game, simply to avoid including the Jason Bartletts and Darin Mastroiannis from this season.

Player AB H 1B 2B 3B HR XBH%
Sam Fuld 76 17 8 9 0 0 53%
Oswaldo Arcia 106 21 11 5 1 4 48%
Trevor Plouffe 245 59 31 22 1 5 48%
Eduardo Escobar 192 57 33 22 0 2 42%
Chris Colabello 151 35 21 10 0 4 40%
Brian Dozier 278 68 41 12 0 15 40%
Josh Willingham 103 26 16 3 1 6 38%
Josmil Pinto 135 30 19 4 0 7 37%
Chris Parmelee 80 18 12 2 0 4 33%
Pedro Florimon 67 7 5 1 1 0 29%
Kendrys Morales 51 11 8 3 0 0 27%
Kurt Suzuki 212 68 51 15 0 2 25%
Eduardo Nunez 69 20 15 2 1 2 25%
Aaron Hicks 126 25 19 5 0 1 24%
Jason Kubel 156 35 27 6 1 1 23%
Joe Mauer 272 71 55 13 1 2 23%
Danny Santana 127 41 32 7 0 2 22%
Chris Herrmann 41 5 5 0 0 0 0%

I don't think you really needed more reinforcement that Jason Kubel was cooked as a hitter or that Joe Mauer has been struggling this season, but there you go.

I must say that it was an absolute surprise to see Sam Fuld atop this list. He's no one's idea of a slugger, nor does he have the profile of a guy that swings for the fences, so I imagine that his stay up here would simply be a temporary one, and Arcia would retain his crown sometime later in the season. I was a little surprised to see Trevor Plouffe so high, but remember that he's hit a ton of doubles this year. Plouffe was maybe more of a free swinger in the past, but this year he's focused more on hitting the ball to the opposite field and that's why he has so many doubles with so few home runs.

Now that we took a look at the Twins roster, I decided to do two more studies. First, the qualified hitters of MLB that were at Arcia's extra base hit percentage or higher. All data from before Tuesday's games.

Player AB H 1B 2B 3B HR XBH%
Chris Carter 220 41 16 11 1 13 61%
Jose Abreu 248 68 29 16 1 22 57%
Edwin Encarnacion 293 80 35 19 2 24 56%
Mike Trout 268 82 42 19 5 16 49%
Khris Davis 266 68 35 18 2 13 49%
Yoenis Cespedes 282 75 39 19 3 14 48%
Seth Smith 210 61 32 17 4 8 48%

Chris Carter, the second coming of Adam Dunn, apparently. All of these players listed are above-average hitters, with the exception of Carter. He strikes out far too much and won't ever hit for a decent average, so he's probably the floor of what Oswaldo Arcia could become. Also, don't forget that this list contains Khris Davis of the Brewers, not Chris Davis of the Orioles.

My last table I'm going to display includes the hitters that have had at least 100 plate appearances* this year. Since Arcia has not played enough to qualify for the leaderboards, I figured it would be fair to pit him against the other hitters that have played roughly the same amount as him. Once again, all hitters with an extra base hit percentage equal to or better than Arcia have been listed.

* This is how FanGraphs sorts their leaderboards, so this is why I made the cutoff at 100 PA but the table lists AB.

Some interesting things to note below. Sean Rodriguez is the leader, but he's putting up a Chris Carter-type season with a terrible batting average but tons of power, even more than he's shown in his career. The same goes for Rene Rivera, and Mike Moustakas.

However, it's not all low average, high power players on this list. We already pointed out Mike Trout. Jose Abreu has done a great job taking over first base from Paul Konerko for the White Sox. Edwin Encarnacion is an excellent hitter. Seth Smith is putting up a career year in San Diego, and he used to hit in a hitter's paradise in Colorado. While Oswaldo Arcia is having an unusual year in terms of his results of his hits, it's not all that rare. Now we just hope that he ends up being closer to a Mike Trout than a Mike Olt.

Player AB H 1B 2B 3B HR XBH%
Sean Rodriguez 106 22 8 6 1 7 64%
Chris Carter 220 41 16 11 1 13 61%
Juan Francisco 162 39 16 10 1 12 59%
Rene Rivera 113 24 10 9 0 5 58%
Jose Abreu 248 68 29 16 1 22 57%
Mike Olt 154 23 10 3 0 10 57%
Edwin Encarnacion 293 80 35 19 2 24 56%
Mike Moustakas 195 34 15 10 1 8 56%
Colby Rasmus 159 38 17 11 0 10 55%
John Mayberry, Jr. 93 22 10 7 0 5 55%
Sam Fuld 106 23 11 9 2 1 52%
Scott Van Slyke 90 25 12 6 1 6 52%
Gaby Sanchez 124 31 15 10 1 5 52%
J.D. Martinez 113 35 17 11 0 7 51%
Carlos Beltran 186 41 20 14 0 7 51%
Devin Mesoraco 146 46 23 10 0 13 50%
Mike Trout 268 82 42 19 5 16 49%
Khris Davis 266 68 35 18 2 13 49%
Yoenis Cespedes 282 75 39 19 3 14 48%
Mike Zunino 213 48 25 13 1 9 48%
Oswaldo Arcia 106 21 11 5 1 4 48%
Seth Smith 210 61 32 17 4 8 48%
Trevor Plouffe 245 59 31 22 1 5 48%
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