Toronto Blue Jays 2012 Expectations Revisited: J.P. Arencibia

By Thom Tsang

Before the start of the 2012 MLB season, I put together a series of performance “forecasts” for the projected starters for the Toronto Blue Jays. Now, with the long season well behind the team, here’s a look back at how the players did compared to my projections – which is another way of saying let’s see how much I messed them up. Today, we’ll start with bluebirds catcher, J.P. Arencibia.

It’s been a long couple of months for J.P. Arencibia. As the R.A. Dickey rumors heated up from the GM meetings, the Blue Jays catcher found himself at the very centre of a purported package that would send the NL Cy Young award winner to Toronto, and spent considerable effort deflecting rumors on Twitter in vague, “if you knew what I know” terms.

What we didn’t know then, of course, was that team GM Alex Anthopoulos had already reached out to Arencibia to tell him that he wouldn’t have to be concerned with those rumors. Not because he couldn’t be traded, of course; but because it was Travis d’Arnaud – the prospect who we’d all assumed would take JPA’s place – that the New York Mets wanted in exchange for Dickey.

So it turned out that Arencibia’s confidence of his status as the Blue Jays’ starting catcher in 2013 was well founded; in fact, you could say that it’s more solid than ever.

In my 2012 forecast for the catcher, I wrote that the biggest question for JPA would be how consistent his offensive production could be if he was healthy all season (he played through much 2011 with a thumb injury suffered in June). Unfortunately, we didn’t get an answer to that question in ’12, as a broken hand derailed a month-long hot streak, and Arencibia was ineffective upon return over the final month of the season (though still considerably more effective than Jeff Mathis).

Arencibia, who made strides defensively, didn’t really do much more offensively to show anything that we didn’t already know: when he’s on, he’s 1.081-OPS-in-93-PA on; when he’s not…well, you know. That, and he still strikes out with the best of ’em.

I’d thought that JPA’s strikeout rate would “normalize a little bit closer to 25% as he learns a little bit more about his opponents at this level”, but I was wrong. Instead of improving on his plate discipline, Arencibia’s K% and BB% both showed slight decline from his rookie season. I’ll have more words on that in the 2013 forecasts, but for now, let’s take a look at his offensive numbers, compared to what I had predicted for him:

My 2012 forecast510 PA, .255/.315/.450, 26 HR
JPA in 2012: 372 PA, .233/.275/.435, 18 HR

Well, if you consider that he would have been on pace for 24 homers with 510 PA, I suppose I got the power numbers pretty close. The rest…eh, not so much.

Although his batting average was up from ’11, that he drew fewer walks means that he’s still got some improvements to make to hit that level where it’s enough to compensate for his defense, however improved it is. It wouldn’t be a problem if he could hit like he did in May and July of the past year, but that he couldn’t do it in the even months was a big part of the reason why folks just couldn’t wait for d’Arnaud’s arrival to begin with.

Still, that he’s able to go on sustained (almost 100 PA in July) tears suggests we haven’t seen the height of JPA’s offensive ceiling yet; that said, ’12 was a slightly disappointing sophomore season for Arencibia, who didn’t find the consistency at the plate (and in staying healthy) that the Blue Jays would’ve liked to see.

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