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 Post-Swanson Era

Once Swanson hit free agency, the odds of a return became minute. Throughout the offseason, the team said that Grissom was learning from the maestro (Ron Washington), and they expected to get the job.

I was one of many who looked at his career and said more than once that was a mistake because Grissom wasn’t ready, and Arcia’s career indicated he couldn’t hit well enough to hold the job long-term.

Around the end of the year, the spin changed slightly to emphasizing Arcia’s chance to earn the job in Spring Training, and Brian Snitker started calling him “A Dude.”

I was half right; Arcia won the job, but an early injury gave Grissom a chance to take it, and he wasn’t ready. On the other hand, I was wrong about Arcia. He’s been superb since returning, and no one’s talked about replacing him lately.

Gawdy Numbers from Shortstop

As I’m writing this on the morning of June 9, 2023, Orlando Arcia is batting .326/.382/.486/.868 with a 132 OPS+. Among 20 shortstops with 150 PA, Arcia’s:

  •  .382 OBP is number one in MLB
  • .326 BA is tied for first in MLB with Bo Bichette
  • .486 SLG is third .001284 behind Wander Franco and first in the NL
  • .132 OPS+ is third in MLB and first in the NL
  • 1.0 rWAR is third

Fangraphs sees things slightly differently, ranking his 136 wRC+ and .379 wOBA first in MLB, but his 1.5 fWAR eighth in MLB and sixth in the NL. The difference is the way Fangraphs treats Arcia’s defense,

Fangraphs ranks Swanson as the best defender in baseball, with Arcia 11th in MLB and sixth in the NL.

Baseball Savant puts Arcia in a tie for ninth with three outs above average, but Fangraphs disagrees with Savant giving him only two. That confuses me since Baseball Savant is the source of the metric, but there’s nothing l can do about it.

Overall his numbers so far are great, and I hope he stays close to that for the rest of the season, but there are some indications he won’t.