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Arcia's 'dramatic turnaround' a welcome surprise

After demotion and adjustments, shortstop on pace for career year
@Russ_Dorsey1
June 10, 2019

Baseball teams have historically built their rosters to be strong up the middle, and the Brewers are no exception. The additions of Lorenzo Cain in center field, Mike Moustakas at second base and Yasmani Grandal behind the plate have given the Brewers a strong veteran defensive presence. But one of

Baseball teams have historically built their rosters to be strong up the middle, and the Brewers are no exception.

The additions of Lorenzo Cain in center field, Mike Moustakas at second base and Yasmani Grandal behind the plate have given the Brewers a strong veteran defensive presence.

But one of the under-the-radar developments in Milwaukee this season has been the transformation of shortstop Orlando Arcia from a glove-first player to an all-around threat.

The slick-fielding Arcia has continued to play stellar defense, but he has also produced with the bat, slashing .257/.325/.419 on the season, and he's on pace to set career-highs in doubles, home runs, runs, RBIs and walks.

“Honestly, this year, I’m learning how to hit,” Arcia said in Spanish. “I think I’m learning to make adjustments, and it started with the work we did in Arizona. I hit OK before, but this year, I’m learning how to hit.”

“There’s a noticeable improvement in the quality of his at-bats,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “He’s worked hard at it. He has found a comfort zone, through a really consistent routine with Andy Haines.”

Arcia was demoted to Triple-A just over a year ago due to his struggles at the Major League level, but the Brewers’ patience has started to pay dividends.

While he’s been passing the eye test, the advanced metrics also show the adjustments Arcia has made at the plate in 2019 are making a difference.

The Brewers’ shortstop has cut his strikeout rate from 23.8 percent in 2018 to 19.9 percent in 2019 while increasing his walk rate from 4 percent to nearly 10 percent this season.

“Orlando has made a pretty dramatic turnaround from last year, and it’s centered around just recognizing balls and strikes,” Counsell said. “He has his hands away from him and lower, but that’s a feel thing that he’s come up with. It’s been working well.”

While Aricia’s offense has taken a step in the right direction, his defense is still his bread and butter. As the leader of Milwaukee’s infield, Arcia’s growth must continue on the defensive side of the ball.

His occasional mental mistakes are evidence that good can always be better.

“Being consistent and making every play is always the next step,” Counsell said. “We ask him to do a lot of things and cover a lot of different holes for us. When you’re shifting like this, he’s playing shortstop, but he’s playing shortstop for about 70 percent of the game. Thirty percent of the game, he’s really playing a different position. That’s valuable. That’s what we’re asking our best infield defender to do.”

There’s room to go before Arcia gets into the conversation of the elite shortstops in the game, but the Venezuela native vows to keep giving fans reason to keep chanting his name while he grows into the player he and the Brewers believe he can be.

“I like hearing that,” he said. “I like when the fans enjoy what you do. Every time you do that, you want to keep doing it more and more so they can stay entertained.”

Russell Dorsey is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Chicago. Follow him on Twitter @Russ_Dorsey1.