Two and 55. Those numbers are the reasons you're reading this. They're the reason I'm writing this. J.P. Arencibia has started 37 of the Blue Jays' 47 games this year. He has 168 plate appearances through Thursday. He has walked twice and struck out 55 times.
You didn't believe me. But J.P. Arencibia has two walks and 55 strikeouts this season. It's May 23. And now, armed with that information, I have to find enough padding to make an entire article out of this.
Here's what I want to write. But that probably wouldn't fly.
While everyone else in the world was saying Kevin Gausman blah blah blah and tweeting 99-mph fastball ferp ferp ferp, I was waiting for Arencibia's next at-bat, hoping he would swing at a camera flash. Hoping he would do something that allowed me to work in this factoid, this business of two walks and 55 strikeouts, slyly into the conversation.
Instead, he took a 96-m.p.h. fastball on his fists and sent it the other way at 102 m.p.h., ruining the debut of one of the better pitching prospects in baseball. Because that's the other thing he does -- he hits dingers. He's tied for seventh in the American League in home runs with 11. He also has … wait for it … two walks and 55 strikeouts.
Here, then, are five factoids that I'm using as an excuse to point out that J.P. Arencibia has two walks and 55 strikeouts.
1. J.P. Arencibia has two walks and 55 strikeouts
Oh, come on. That doesn't count.
1. OK, J.P. Arencibia is on pace to have a historic season
Small samples don't have to be your enemy. They can be really, really fun. This probably isn't going to last. But here's a list of the players in major-league history with at least 100 plate appearances and an on-base percentage under .250 and a slugging over .450:
Dammit, Alejandro, don't steal my thunder here. It's one thing to be a strikeout maven, but it's another to do it with so few walks. And it's even another thing to do it while still being productive in some way.
Now, Matt Williams eventually became an excellent hitter. But he was also just 23 when he had his season. Not only that, he was rushed beyond all reason because he was a high draft pick. So if you're looking for an Arencibia comp ... that ain't it.
2. Nothing's really changed for Arencibia between last year and this year
That is, his swings on pitches out of the strike zone? Up by less than a percent. Swing percentage overall? Down from last year. He's still a hacker, but his strike-zone numbers aren't much different from Adrian Beltre or Brandon Phillips this season.
3. One of his walks came in his fifth plate appearance of the season
And it was against a broken Ubaldo Jimenez. Is this what Ubaldo's delivery has looked like for the past year?
Good grief. I could have fixed that. Stop doing that!, I'd say. Good thing someone told Ubaldo and now he's fixed. But this isn't about Ubaldo Jimenez. This is about J.P. Arencibia's two walks and 55 strikeouts. So we have to move on.
4. Arencibia hasn't been swinging at too many super-hilarious pitches
Here's what Arencibia has been swinging at this year, courtesy of TexasLeaguers.com:
There are some balls way out of the zone, sure, but it's a semi-controlled zone for a complete and utter hacker. Here's Pablo Sandoval, for example:
See? There's a dot that's literally off the grid, between the -1 and 0. That was a pitch thrown backward through time, and Sandoval still swung at it. Arencibia has amazing hacking numbers -- two walks and 55 strikeouts, at last count -- but he isn't flailing at everything and anything that comes close to the plate. He's just swinging really, really hard.
And, yeah, some of those pitches are pretty danged far from being a strike.
Wait, Arencibia has one of those, too.
Okay, he's been pretty hilarious.
5. Arencibia is on pace for 37 home runs, six walks, and 189 strikeouts
Okay, that would be something worthy of a prog-rock concept album. Six movements, with titles like "The Slider of Verlander X-4" and a 20-minute solo that would melt your face. Except that's not really going to happen. Things will stabilize and get all boring, and we'll have to find something else to argue about.
But pretend Arencibia gets to 30 walks this year. Like, he goes on a walk rampage in the second half of the year, but he keeps the same strikeout rate. Here's a list of the players in history with an AB/SO ratio under 3.00, but with 30 walks or fewer:
|7||Wily Mo Pena||2005||2.6810||20||335||23||CIN||19||51||116||.254||.304||.492||.796|
There's no reason to compare all of these players, but let's try! Jarrod Saltalamacchia is like the J.P. Arencibia of baseball. Chris Davis is going to be an All-Star this year. Wily Mo Pena might be an All-Star, but in Japan. Tony Clark eventually became a very productive hitter. Bo Jackson was an all-time physical legend. Hensley Meulens is actively telling the players on my favorite team how to approach hitting a baseball, and I'm terrified.
J.P. Arencibia has two walks and 55 strikeouts. This probably isn't going to keep up, but for now, let's appreciate the best all-or-nothing hitter in the land. This could be really, really special. Good times, everyone. Good times.