You know what's awesome? Being wrong. The value of being dead wrong is two-fold for someone as ironically detached as myself:
- When you're constantly negative, being wrong means things actually went well!
- Something something learning.
All was well until the calender turned to June. This month, Aaron Cibia's gone in the tank some. Tired? Maybe, but he's 25 and it's only June. Maybe the league figured something out about the studly catcher. Like, maybe, I dunno, he can't hit a slider?
Arencibia currently sports some pretty gaudy left/right splits. His exposure to left-handed pitching is pretty minimal but he's smacking it around with extreme prejudice. 5 of his 10 home runs came from southpaws in 1/3 the PAs.
His OPS is nearly double versus lefties, his ISO 200 points higher. The numbers are eye-popping but, we must remember, the sample is small and neither side is an accurate representation of his true talent level. (As a weird aside, he displayed large reverse splits in the his final year at AAA. Can't predict baseball!)
Wait, hold on. What if these splits are indicative of a pattern, of a hole in his swing or the league figuring him out? Arencibia's wOBA by month tells a tale (.369, .341, .211). You know what else tells a similar tale? The percentage of sliders he sees from right handed pitchers, also by month.
Arencibia, percentage of sliders (from RHP) faced by month
- April 11%
- May 18%
- June 31%
Whiff rate versus slider (from RHP) by month
- April 18%
- May 27%
- June 52%
Sliders and slider-shaped items down and away with fastballs up in the zone? You don't say!
While J.P. Arencibia is far from the first right-handed batter to struggle with the slider down and away, it is now his duty to make an adjustment. Arencibia's young enough that there is plenty of learning and/or development time before we throw up our hands and declare him a one-trick pony. God only knows the last thing this team needs is another platoon player.