The Upside of J.P. Arencibia

Arencibia - 2011's breakout player? (image from daylife.com)

It’s that time of year again – Fantasy Baseball time.

I hate fantasy football.  I hate fantasy hockey.  I hate fantasy basketball. 

So, as usual, as soon as March rolls around, I get over excited, bite off more than I can chew, and join way too many fantasy baseball leagues.

This year I am in six (6!!!) different leagues:

– MLB.com’s weekly head-to-head league

– Yahoo – standard public league

– Yahoo – auction draft

– Yahoo – winner’s league

– Yahoo – heavy drinking, blind drunk, auto pick draft extravaganza

– Yahoo – bloggers league

Yesterday marked my first draft of the season, and I was put in an instant dilemma after the 13th round (of a 23 round draft): who should I draft as my catcher?

Already off the board were:

– Buster Posey (2nd round – way too early)

– Joe Mauer (3rd)

– Victor Martinez (4th)

– Brian McCann (5th)

– Carlos Santana (7th)

– Geovany Soto (10th)

Of the remaining catchers, I had my eye on Miguel Montero of Arizona, over guys such as Mike Napoli, Matt Wieters, and John Buck – each of whom went in the 11th round.  But after Montero was snagged seven picks before I targeted him, I was left with nothing. 

One look at who was leftover and one thought came to mind: these guys are all the same.  Seriously – Jorge Posada, Kurt Suzuki, Ryan Doumit, John Jaso, Russell Martin, Carlos Ruiz, Miguel Olivo, Yadier Molina, A.J. Pierzynski, and Rod Barajas.  In my mind, these guys are interchangeable.  They will all end up with the same stats, and none of them really have a chance to do something exciting.  Aside from Suzuki and Jaso, they are all grizzled veterans.

But one row below that list was this name: J.P. Arencibia, Toronto.

It might be because I am a Jays fan and a homer, but Arencibia excites me.  He has HUGE upside, and enormous untapped potential. 

I know he has done nothing but struggle lately.  His .143 average and .532 OPS in 11 games last season combined with his .087 average and .337 OPS this spring tells me that.

But this is a guy who destroyed triple-A last year.  This is a guy who had one of the most memorable debuts in baseball history last year.  And this is also the guy who will likely carry the bulk of the load behind the plate for John Farrell’s Jays this year. 

The challenges of being a rookie catcher far exceed the challenges of being a rookie position player.  Catching is both more physically and mentally demanding.  We’ve seen highly touted rookie catchers struggle – think Matt Wieters.  But success as a rookie catcher is possible: just ask Mr. Mauer, Mr. Posey, or Mr. Soto.

Is it possible that Arencibia is a bust?  Sure.  He might hit .215 with 3 HR and lose his starting job.  He might even fail enough to be sent back to Vegas.  But the downside of that in fantasy is I drop him for another bum.

I drafted J.P. for his upside, for the potential of him hitting .275 with 30 HR and 95 RBI.

Is it possible? I don’t see why not. 

Is it likely? For the sake of the Jays and my fantasy team I sure hope so.

One thought on “The Upside of J.P. Arencibia”

  1. JP was given a Bum’s rush at the end of last season, handed tough starts and carrying the burden of trying to maintain his hero’s welcome from his 1st major league game. He will be a delight this year, you have chosen well, Fantasy-man.

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