Braves' Success Boosted by Orlando Arcia's Unexpected Production But It May Not Last

Atlanta Braves shortstop Orlando Arcia's game-tying homer is the latest example of an unexpectedly strong offensive season.
Atlanta Braves shortstop Orlando Arcia's game-tying homer is the latest example of an unexpectedly strong offensive season. / Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
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The Atlanta Braves expected Orlando Arcia to provide above-average defense and a league-average bat with occasional power. Few –if any -expected Arcia to lead all NL shortstops in BA and OPS+.

The Atlanta Braves lost their All-Star shortstop to free agency shortly after winning the 2022 season ended and opted to fill the vacancy from within.

Early Arcia

Early scouting reports spoke glowingly of his defense but worried about his aggressiveness at the plate. When Baseball America (subscription required) named him Milwaukee’s number one prospect heading into 2016, their rationale reflected those concerns but had high hopes for his future.

. . . He has the range, hands and arm strength teams seek in a Gold Glove-caliber shortstop, with tremendous instincts and flair for making big plays at key times . . . he still is too aggressive at times for his own good and does not draw enough walks . . .When he does arrive at Miller Park, Arcia could be the first homegrown impact player developed by the Brewers since Ryan Braun . . .in 2007.

 He delivered the scouts’ worst projection with the Brewers, struggling at the plate and allowing those struggles to affect his defense.

Atlanta Braves Search for Options

All Presidents of Baseball Operations and General Managers must juggle their today’s needs while planning for the next three-to-five years. Atlanta Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos knew Dansby Swanson would likely depart in 2022 with no equivalent shortstops.

Arcia appeared excess to Milwaukee’s needs and offered potential Gold-Glove defense at a minimum. His early scouting reports mentioned something the Atlanta Braves value. 

. . . Beyond his on-field performance, Arcia became a team leader while playing much of the season at age 20 . . . (he) has a confidence that is easy to see, maturity beyond his years and the instincts that only come naturally in being at the right place at the right time . . .

Those factors convinced Anthopoulos, and on April 6, the club sent Patrick Weigel and Chad Sobotka to Milwaukee in exchange for Arcia. He came with two years of control via arbitration, giving them ample time to see if those abilities and that mindset were still front and center in his makeup.

By the time the World Series ended, they had their answer, and on November 30, they extended Arcia for two years and $2.9M, but the euphoria surrounding the World Series meant few took note of the deal.