Monday, 6 May 2013

J.P. Arencibia And The Hidden Improved Approach

                In the dreary start to the Blue Jays 2013 season, one of the few bright spots has been the ridiculous and completely unsustainable power surge by Jonathan Paul Arencibia. Along with the power comes the strike outs and lack of walks, as expected, but yet Arencibia’s approach has been better this season.
                At this point you must be thinking I’m absolutely fucking nuts, and that might be fair. Arencibia has a 35.9% strikeout rate and a 1.7% walk rate, both worse than his already poor career numbers. It is early in the season and even as quickly as strikeout and walk rates normalize, there is reason to believe that J.P. has made some strides at the dish.
                Arencibia will always strike out at a high rate due to a long swing that does have some exploitable holes, but if he can avoid digging himself into holes by swinging at bad pitches there is a chance that he can lessen the his strikeout issues and perhaps hit for a higher average. To show some of the improvements I’ve seen in his approach I’m going to link to the tables below.

This strikezone map shows JP’s swing rate over his career. The first thing I want to focus on is the number of pitches down and away that he swings at.

Career Swing Percentages For J.P. Arencibia

Between 2011 and 2012 In that quartet of zones, JP swung at 473 of 946 pitches, exactly 50%. So far in 2013, JP has swung at only 48 of 129 pitches down and away, or 37.2%. It is a small sample size, but that is a fairly sizeable adjustment. When it comes to just breaking pitches, he is swinging at 39.5% of the time, compared to 44.2% in 2011 and 2012.

J.P. Arencibia Swing Percentages In Strike Zone

While all of this is just a small sample, overall his swing rates within the strike zone seem to be with pitches in better locations, but time will tell if this approach change keeps up. The above chart shows his swing rate in the zone for 2013 and for his career. 2013 is on the left, while his career rates are on the right. One of the big reason’s for Edwin Encarnacion’s strides last season was the fact that he was more selective within the strike zone, and it appears so far that Arencibia has been doing something similar so far, though his approach still leaves a lot to be desired.

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