Will J.P. Arencibia improve in 2014? Here is what he says


May 31, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; Toronto Blue Jays catcher

J.P. Arencibia

(9) reacts after fouling a ball off his leg during the fourth inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, Texas Rangers catcher J.P. Arencibia was on ESPN Radio with Matt Hicks talking about the upcoming season.

One question that was asked to Arencibia was my question.

To give you some back ground,  J.P. Arencibia, who is 28, is a catcher that primarily known for his catching and power hitting.  But over all he doesn’t walk very much and he as a career batting average of .212

During the Radio interview, Matt Hicks asked Arencibia the question, but first gave some history on J.P. Arencibia.  Hicks talked about how Arencibia has been a power hitter and drove in 21,18, and 23 home runs in over the past 3 years.

As I noted a while back, his approach at the plate has probably contributed to his low batting average. In 2012 and 2013, he only had 18 walks over 240 games.  He has commented on this in the past.

"“I’m just not going to do it anymore,” Arencibia said. “My approach is to go up there and try and drive the ball, hit the ball, and I’m going to try and do that every time I step into the batter’s box next year.” (FanGraphs.com Navin Vaswani)"

Yesterday on the radio J.P. Arencibia said that he has been working with the Texas Rangers hitting coach Dave Magadan.  Also, during the interview, he talked about Texas as an organization and how they take a different approach to the game.

For the Texas Rangers, getting on base matters.  Getting on base via a walk, hasn’t been something Arencibia has done in the past.  But it appears that now he’s with the Texas Rangers, he’s willing to change that.

He also talked about he does have the capability to be the player to drive in a three-run home run with his bat, but he feels like he’s matured some and will bring more discipline to the plate in 2014.

Being with a new organization, it is possible that he will improve his batting average and possibly draw a few more walks, which would of course increase his on-base percentage.

Last season, he had a batting average of .194, just a little south of the Mendoza line.  To add to that, he only had an on-base percentage of .227, which was the lowest on-base percentage ever by a catcher.  Beating out the previous record set in 1908 by Billy Sullivan with a .235.  He received a lot of criticism while he was in Toronto because of his low batting average and low on-base percentage.  Again, after the season, here is a quote from J.P. Arencibia

"“I am what I am up there,” Arencibia said, “and I’m going to embrace that. How can I hit a home run, or drive in runs, if I’m up there looking to take a walk?” (FanGraphs.com Navin Vaswani)"

But, I’m still optimistic that he’ll have an improved year.  He has shown that he can drive the ball, and he has had spots where he has shown improvement.  In 2010, after he had Lasik eye surgery, his average did go up.  Mainly because he was able to see the ball better, especially at night.

With a new team, new ballpark and new coaches, I expect to see a least a little bump in his batting average.  Catchers are not usually the best at the plate, but getting his average in .220 is a big improvement over his .194 last year.  And if he can drive the ball to get those 3-run home runs, that should equal a few additional wins for the Texas Rangers.