MILWAUKEE -- Orlando Arcia's second Major League season was more productive than his first, and Brewers manager Craig Counsell is among those betting that even better days are ahead.The 23-year-old shortstop is key to the Brewers' offensive fortunes in 2018 because of the way Arcia helps lengthen the lineup when
MILWAUKEE -- Orlando Arcia's second Major League season was more productive than his first, and Brewers manager Craig Counsell is among those betting that even better days are ahead.
The 23-year-old shortstop is key to the Brewers' offensive fortunes in 2018 because of the way Arcia helps lengthen the lineup when he is swinging a hot bat. That happened much more often last season, when Arcia boosted his OPS by 100 points over his two-month audition at the end of 2016.
"I think he probably didn't surprise himself, but I think he surprised some other people of how he played," Counsell said. "He's got a lot of room left to grow, offensively. I think he knows that.
"And I still think he has got steps forward left to take. We're talking about a 23-year-old player that he's just getting started. There's room for growth, for sure."
Like many young players, that growth could come in the form of plate discipline. Among Major League Baseball's 144 batting-title qualifiers, Arcia ranked 10th (and highest among Brewers) in swinging at 54 percent of pitches, and 11th in swinging at 38.7 percent of pitches outside of the strike zone.
Arcia finished with 100 strikeouts in 506 at-bats, marking the 10th time in franchise history that a Brewers shortstop reached triple-digit strikeouts. But with those swings came some power; Arcia's .731 OPS placed his 2017 among the 20 most productive seasons for a Brewers shortstop.
"The ball-strike recognition is the step to me that just grows with experience," Counsell said, "and he's a prime candidate for that to continue to grow as he ages."
Arcia went home happy.
"Very happy," he said through translator Carlos Brizuela. "I thank God for keeping me healthy, and I'm thankful for the staff here for constantly working with me.
"I'm going to work hard the whole offseason and come back next year to try to improve. In this game, you always have to keep working to be perfect. Keep working to improve all aspects of your game."
That includes his defense, though Arcia has always been advanced in that area. He made one of the Brewers' plays of the year on June 21, when he fielded a John Jaso grounder up the middle, spun and threw to first for the final out of a 4-3 win over the Pirates at Miller Park.
With moments like that, Arcia's natural confidence and verve began to show, most often evidenced on the top step of the dugout as he cheers teammates during games. Counsell hopes to see more of that moving forward.
"I want Orlando Arcia to be himself," Counsell said. "And that's how he gets to the best version of himself, by understanding that it's OK to do that. And we celebrate it. It turned into fun. The guys were better players for it because of that."
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.