Oswaldo Arcia (1% Yahoo, 1.6% EPSN, 8% CBS) – the dude seems like he’s been around forever but he actually just turned 25 yesterday. After a disappointing 2015 in both Minnesota and Rochester, Arcia is swinging a hot bat, producing at the level Twins fans envisioned given the promising start to his career. So far, he’s cracked 4 homers in just over 70 plate appearances on his way to a shiny 135 wRC+.
It’s easy to look at some obvious data points and scream regression. His .382 BABIP and 40% HR/FB rates will assuredly normalize. And his career-high GB/FB ratio is, on its surface, alarming. Dig a little deeper and we find his ground ball rate has remained stable while his fly balls have simply turned into line drives. As for the quality of Arcia’s contact, he ranks 57th out of 287 in average FB/LD exit velocity among those with at least 30 balls-in-play.
Is this new batted ball profile sustainable? Who knows? But if you buy into the crazy narrative that greater selectivity at the plate can often lead to better contact, then perhaps some of it is. Arcia is chasing pitches outside of the zone a career low 28.5% of the time, about one point above the league, but an eight and a half point drop below his career average. He’s also cut down on his whiff rate while spending more time in favorable counts. This helps to explain his career best walk-rate, making him suddenly very interesting in OBP leagues.
We’d obviously like to see him hit more fly balls as the sustainability of his current power output, given his batted ball profile, is slim. Nevertheless, the plate discipline gains and improved contact are a boon to fantasy owners looking for outfield help.
Aaron Hicks (1% Yahoo, 1.3% ESPN, 6% CBS) – I was actually planning to write about Dae-Ho Lee but then I just saw Hicks hit another home run. So I figured that Lee will probably be available to write about for at least another week and it’s more helpful to, you know, focus on the guy who actually has a starting job.
And that guy, for the time being, would be the aforementioned Mr. Hicks. I’ve been riding the Hicks train for a while now. I touted him in a previous piece, picked him as an UDFA sleeper in our annual RotoGraphs Staff Picks, and rostered him in a few leagues, and not just those of the deep variety. Obviously, I’ve been disappointed.
Prior to A-Rod landing on the DL, Hicks hit .067/.125/.067 with a -58 wRC+. I know, it’s bad. But that came over just a handful of starts and piecemeal playing time. Now with A-Rod on the DL, Jacoby Ellsbury dealing with what appears to be a minor hip injury, and Carlos Beltran showing his age all in the context of a 11-18 start, Hicks appears to have a nice window of opportunity.
Remember, this is the same guy who combined double digit homers and steals last year with a plate discipline profile that placed him in some pretty lofty company.
The biggest knock on Hicks is admittedly a big one. He can’t hit righties. Or rather, he hasn’t yet shown the ability to hit them. Coming off the bench, we were never going to find out if he could but the playing time we anticipated looks like it’s finally arrived. Snatch him up in deep leagues because if he picks up where he left off last season, this power-speed threat won’t be available for long.
Rylan writes for Fangraphs and The Hardball Times. Look for his weekly Deep League Waiver Wire and The Chacon Zone columns this season.