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J.P. Arencibia finished the 2013 season with a .227 on-base percentage, which is not the worst OBP by a qualified hitter since 1900. It’s not the second-worst. It’s not the third-worst. It’s not the fourth-, fifth-, sixth-, seventh-, or eighth-worst on-base by a qualified hitter since 1900.

It’s not an on-base percentage of a qualified hitter at all.

Yes, Arencibia, at the end of the season, dropped just below the threshold needed in order to qualify for the batting title. To do so a player needs to have 3.1 plate appearances for every originally scheduled game that his team played, which means that, playing a 162 game schedule, a player needs 502 PA. Arencibia finished the year with 497.

He was five plate appearances shy of posting the second-worst qualified OBP since 1900, and the worst since Hal Lanier in 1968.

The fact that he wasn’t qualified doesn’t change how bad he was, and so this conspiracy theory is maybe a bit silly, but something interesting did happen on the final weekend of season that could have impacted his qualifed status: Josh Thole caught a day game after a night game in order to give Arencibia the day off.

Thole caught as R.A. Dickey pitched– with the dome closed, you may remember– on September 28th, and then was back out there the next afternoon, catching J.A. Happ.

Say what you will about how staggeringly terrible Arencibia’s production has been all season, doesn’t it seem a little odd, maybe, that one of the club’s ostensible regulars– while the Jays are playing a team fighting for a playoff spot, and paying lip service to the integrity of the game– would be held out in favour of Josh Thole catching a day game after a night game, in a lineup that already featured Moises Sierra hitting cleanup, and Gose, Goins, Langerhans, and Pillar as well?

Yeah, OK, Arencibia has long been dealing with a knee issue, and the only players to have played in more games behind the plate this year were Salvador Perez and Matt Wieters. And sure, it seems like a hell of a leap to think that the Jays may have held him out for dubious reasons, just so we all can no longer technically say “second-worst qualified on-base since 1900.” But… I dunno, maybe?

Or maybe I’m just looking to rage out at someone because of how annoying it’s now going to be to have to always write that he had “the second-worst on-base since 1900 of anyone with at least 450 plate appearances.” Or “the fifth-worst on-base since 1900 of anyone with at least 400 plate appearances.” Or “the eighth-worst on-base since 1900 of anyone with at least 350 plate appearances.” Or “the twentieth-worst on-base since 1900 of anyone with at least 300 plate appearances.” Or… well… you get the idea.

That last one may even be the most impressive of all, actually. If the number of entries shown on the database at FanGraphs can be trusted (and having worked with these giant leaderboards a bunch, I’m not entirely confident in saying they can– they seemed to move around a little) there have been 20,574 seasons since 1900 in which a player has amassed over 300 plate appearances. Twenty thousand! And all but nineteen of those were better, in terms of on-base, than Arencibia’s 2013!

In other words, we witnessed something truly more magical and rare than any other fan base in the Majors this year, you guys.

I mean… by the end there I had been trying to qualify Arencibia’s atrociousness by pointing out that so much of what made his season truly abysmal was the fact that he was run out there so many times– that it was made to look a little more remarkable than it was because of the high cutoff in terms of plate appearances. Surely more guys have had seasons as bad, their teams have just had the good sense not to play them so often, I assumed.

And… it’s true. Technically. If you drop the cut-off to 250 plate appearances– essentially half the number that Arencibia had this year– and he tumbles down the worst-ever-OBP list… all the way into a tie for 37th place.

That’s right, a mere twenty-three thousand eighty-eight seasons of 250 plate appearances or more have produced a better on-base than Arencibia did in 2013. How fucking precious were we when we thought last year’s .275 mark was unacceptably low! Hey, but at least he plays good defence, right?

Seriously, though, I’m probably being a little dramatic in my worrying about how to properly write this stuff out in the future. I mean, how much longer are we going to actually be talking about J.P. Arencibia, honestly?

Comments (75)

    • So basically we don’t need a RH-LH platoon, just a home-away platoon…that split is unbelievable.

    • JPA put up some historically dreadful numbers despite playing half his games in a (let’s face it) joke stadium that inflates all offence.

      As another alluded to, his road splits are out-of-this-world god-awful (there just aren’t enough adjectives). For either home/road split with minimum 200 PA (an even larger population that “qualified”), JPA’s 2013 road performance featured both the single worst Batting Average and single worst On Base Percentage IN MLB HISTORY. The worst. Ever. Bar none.

      I love the guy’s community involvement, but his performance goes beyond indefensible.

    • You’ve convinced me. Those splits show that he is best against LH starters, at home, and in the first half of the season. My suggestion: Keep him, but don’t let him take the team plane anywhere — maybe he could get a part-time job somewhere when the Jays are out of town — and only play him against LH starters in the first half of the season. He can be the bullpen catcher the rest of the time, or work with his pal Dirk Hayhurst doing crack analysis during games. Either that, or donate him to a worthy cause, like Delusional Egomaniacs R Us.

  1. Hopefully not much longer…

  2. J.P who? This fucking clown is useless. One of the worst baseball players ever. As the stats show. if he spent half the energy he did trying to bash Zauny this season and used it on baseball he may have had another walk this season. trade this piece of shit for whatever u can get. id take a kick in the nuts if it means i dont have to see this failure in a Jays uniform next year.

  3. If he had the defensive no how of a catcher it would not be so bad, but his catcher WAR, pitch framing, pitch calling, defensive no how (seriously why does he try to catch a bouncing ball instead of pushing his weight in the opposite direction to stop an errand ball?)….

  4. way to inform the fans the wrong way! why not mention run production numbers? i’m going to talk to paul beeston about this!

    you must be fat and/or terrible at your previous job!

    I think i’m going to quit twitter.

  5. Realized this when I asked Siri who had the lowest OBP and all of a sudden he stopped appearing lol

  6. “while the Jays are playing a team fighting for a playoff spot, and paying lip service to the integrity of the game”

    I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the concept that benching Arencibia could have any kind of negative effect on the integrity of the game.

  7. Re: I mean, how much longer are we going to actually be talking about J.P. Arencibia, honestly?

    There is a decent chance he may return.

    I believe he has an option, AA is of the mind to pay players to be in Buffalo if he thinks that there is asset value.

    • Please be gone

      • Like it or not…….

        -the guy plays a position that is terribly thin throughout the league

        -he has legit 30hr power (note to readers power is down throughout the league)

        -the aura of being a 1st round pick (yes baseball people don’t give up easy on that shit, see Matt Bush)

        -he has an option (somebody please confirm this for me)

        -controllable till 2017

        - not dirt cheap, but only 1st year arb (btw, this could debunk the OPB qualifier theory, I’m sure AA would be very happy to cite that stat to an arbiter).

        - is not terrible defensively overall, just below average in my opinion

        - Won a PCL MVP (yes I know he repeated the year at not the youngest age, but still an accomplishment)

        - Has media skills (yes that is of some value these days)

        I’m not saying I want him on the team, but I could very easily see the rational for either keeping him in the organization, or trying to rebuild his value and flip him.

        • He has at least one option year.

        • he fucking has media skills? did you not follow the shit storm he created this year? holy fuck.

          his defensive skills are not just below average, they are far below average. he is an offensive catcher with very poor offensive skills. look at his pass balls, wild pitches allowed, % runners throw out (much of this is probably the pitchers’ fault though), the fact that he doesn’t know how to block the fucking plate (he moves 10 feet up the line towards the throw and then tries to run back to the plate to tag someone…wow). his pitch framing is also below average I believe. I’m not sure about his pitch framing.

          • Yes he has media skills. Baseball is entertainment, having someone who can shill the products and promotions to the fans is of some value.

            The shit storm that you refer to doesn’t happen if this team who most everyone was convinced was going to make the playoffs doesn’t shit the bed collectively.

            He defensive numbers are bad, but he’s still young and there are GM’s and coaches who think that they can fix him and get to league average.

            I’m not disagreeing with you I just think that as an asset that there is too much potential value that he won’t be thrown away.

        • the only way we could keep him is if we could stash him away in the minors for cheap.

        • how do you figure he has 30 HR power? his highest so far is 23.

          also note his career OBP is .258, .288 wOBA, 76 wRC+.

          his BB rate has been declining for 3 years and his K rate has been rising for 3 years.

          his DRS is actually positive which, to me, is another strike against the stat.

          • He does have 30 HR power, even with shitty 2013 in the books his 162 game average is 27 HR.

            Yes this is predicated on him turning his shit around, yes I know he would only play 130 games max as a catcher, but this is only his 3rd year in the bigs, the position is so thin its gotta be hard to cut bait on this guy as an asset.

            • I hear what you are saying but how could they justify paying him $2.8 mil to rot in the minors? Unless AA can work out some kind of deal for a lot less $…

        • @Famous

          +1.

          Hopefully, JPA will have a better 2014

  8. Arencibia is the anti-Mike Trout

  9. I kinda hope the Rays** pick up Arencibia somehow this offseason. Him and Price would do well after a poorly pitched game to sit around and piss and moan about the know nothing losers that critique their performances.

    **Or whomever the Rays trade Price to for a whole truck load of prospects

  10. If you want to see something funny, check out his september stats. it is only 66 PA, but holy shit amazing-balls.

  11. It’s funny how personal this is (and JP has helped make it that way by being so proud of himself).

    I mean as shitty as he is, he’s still better than Thole. Or Jeff Matthis. And Jose Molina did a little better in OBP, but I’d trade the dozen or so extra walks, for the 20 more home runs that JP hit. Better than either of the Yankees catchers.

    And JP cost less than all those guys. And stayed healthy.

    Seems he stands out more for playing so much compared to other catchers. And a bit more rest may have helped him bat a little tiny bit better.

    But that his defense also sucks, and his prickly attitude, and the arbitration cost coming… yeah gets to be too much.

    • JP has a higher ceiling in offensive skills, but he can’t match the players you listed in defensive skills, and that should be more important.

      • I agree – especially when he’ll now cost more than 500k.

        Just saying that technically a lot of catchers sucked, but just had less AB. Even JP didn’t technically qualify, which is ridiculous considering he never hit the DL. Maybe the threshold for AB should be lower.

      • Also, even though not many catchers were much better in terms of OBP, JP did have an atrocious number of strikeouts. He DOES suck.

  12. Not to be “that guy” but there’s a typo in paragraph 10. Sentence should read “and all but nineteen of those were BETTER, in terms of on base, than Arencibia’s 2013.”

    But ya, fuck JPA is terrible. I’m a charter member of team bring back Jose Molina, but honestly I’d take literally any other catcher in the major or minor leagues over JP right now.* If only for the hope.

    * Except for Josh Thole who looks and hits like a hobbit.

  13. So was it JPA begging off playing because he knew what was at stake, or was it Gibby (I doubt Gibby knew the dubious distinction was within reach), or AA pulled the plug?

    And does anyone have stats on three pitch SOs, or rate of swinging at balls? I’m confident JPA was a league leader in those categories too.

  14. JPA has 20 home runs or so every year in the AL East against premium pitching. I hope some NL team is paying attention. This could be a big chance for them. He hits for power! And he won’t cost a hell of a lot either…

  15. And of course AA held him back. That way the ‘worst hitter in baseball for years and years and years’ tag won’t follow him around like a bad smell. Well, it will. But it’s much easier to write ‘worst hitter in baseball’ than it is to write ‘worst hitter in baseball if he had completed the at-bats necessary…’ so that probably will stay out of the sports coverage at least.

  16. I wonder if he would have better luck with a cricket bat..

  17. More frightening stats: he walked only 18 times this year (18 TIMES!), with a strikeout to walk ratio of 8.22:1. The regular season leader among starting pitchers this year was David Price, with a 5.59:1 ratio. Among relievers, only Koji Uehara had a higher ratio than JP.

  18. He can’t come back there has to be a better upgrade

  19. I am just going to play devil’s advocate here for a minute. Once we signed Dickey, JPA seemed to spend the remainder of the off season worried about catching the knuckleball. Then came spring training and the WBC where JPA was primarily concerned with catching the knuckleball. Then came the regular season where JPA had no catching coach for half the season (a bit more actually).

    He regressed defensively because he changed his focus and when the wheels came off there was no one there to help him get back on track. He regressed offensively as a result of his defensive baggage. He regressed publicly (socially?) because of the stress created by his on-field regression.

    Is this the right answer? Are theses valid or are these relevant points? I don’t know. At the beginning of the season I was looking for JPA to hit about .250 and maybe an OBP of .280. To me there is too much emphasis on the fact of the regression and not on the cause(s) of the regression. He performed better in 2012 than in 2011. I can understand a plateau. I can understand hitting your ceiling. I don’t understand this all-encompassing regression.

    • I don’t know if your right or wrong, but it’s another log on the fire for him returning.

    • I know you’re playing devil’s advocate, but I think it’s a little simplistic. For one, we think that his focus had to be so narrow in the off-season and the spring and he couldn’t have worked on hitting, too? There are only so many knuckleballs that can get thrown to him, so that would leave a huge amount of time when he was doing… what, exactly?

      I’d just say this theory puts FAR too much emphasis on the magic pixie dust of coaching and focus, and not enough on the fact that Arencibia didn’t defend well because he’s not a good defensive catcher, and didn’t hit well because he’s not a good hitter.

      • I won’t quibble with you; the warm and fuzzies are by definition unquantifiable. I am disappointed by JPA’s year as well. But I do believe there needs some dialogue that says what if it was only a one year regression. What if it was a lack of coaching (which I consider a major oversight on the Jays part).

        We will kick ourselves if we cut him and then he returns with the kind of season we hoped his 2013 would be, for me that would be about .250/.280/.450 with 25 HR’s. Raise his BB% by 1% and drop his SO rate by 1%. Not great but if he can play defense like he did in the last 3rd of the season you have a useable piece. Should we automatically assume with a young player that a bad season if more than a bad season?

        • It’s three bad seasons, and even if he gets to what you expected, that’s still pretty terrible. They can’t risk finding out, because it would mean not bringing in someone better, and being on the hook for $3-million. The coaching stuff is silly.

          • lol I know better than to get into an argument with you. And I agree he is not a great hitter or defensive catcher. The big question is (as you yourself have pointed out) there are not a whole lot of options to replace him.

            Is it worth it to look as this season being a one year regression which will see 2014 being a decent year for him. I don’t know. None of us know. If AA can work some magic and get a decent starting catcher, then great. But those are few and far between.

            Once again, like I said, I am playing devil’s advocate. In terms of defense, production and salary JPA may end up being the lesser of the other evils.

            I do agree with a number of your points and the next time I am in TO I would love to buy you a beer for the hours I have enjoyed reading DJF. Yes I am shameless but that is how the world works lol:)

    • Or perhaps pitchers have figured him out now. JPA has absolutely no eye at the plate and basically decides before the pitch is thrown whether he is going to swing or not. It is obvious when you watch him and check out his 3 year trend for BB% and K%. It is kinda sad to watch him flail around at the plate.

      • Or perhaps JPA is not that good, has never been that good, and will never be that good.

        There’s no loss of any skill here..its simply that his weaknesses are being exploited more efficiently as the league has studied him now for several full seasons.

        He has not adjusted. Why? Because he is stubborn? I dont think so…its because he can’t.

        He can no more adjust to what’s being done to him than a slow NFL running back adjust to being slow by just deciding to run faster.

  20. I think I’m reading this correctly, but scream at me if I’m not. As per Fangraphs,
    http://www.fangraphs.com/statsplits.aspx?playerid=697&position=C&season=2013
    In 59 plate appearances with a full count,
    29K
    9BB
    5 hits
    That is disgusting.

  21. .Let’s just say for a second that the Jays look elsewhere for a catcher next season with the intention of dropping JPA or letting him work on his game in Buffalo. This is an org that had JPA’s internal defensive rating almost equal to his power rating (50 for D, 60 for power), they didn’t want to part with Jeff Mathis and insisted on Thole. Do you really trust them to replace JPA?

  22. No one will trade for JPA. Why would they? Unless AA also throws in a bag of magic beans or something.

  23. On the bright side at least they aren’t paying Uggla big money to have the lowest average of all time for players who actually qualified. Say what you will about BA (and I have said it all) .179 is an accomplishment.

    Another note of interest is that Izturis posted the 63rd worst WAR of all time so JPA wasn’t even considered the worst Jay at fangraphs.

    The bright side of course is that these positions shouldn’t be all that hard to upgrade.

    • That is good to hear.

      What is scary is that the jays really, really TRIED to have get uggla on the team.

      so the fact that we didnt experience that shit performance was only out of luck.

  24. Stoeten, any idea why a guy would have such a massive home/road split?

  25. I pray to god that they don’t trot this bum out next season all the while trying to put some bullshit spin on it ! It’s becoming more and more obvious that AA and company don’t have a plan in place besides just putting pieces together and hoping it will magically work. I mean there’s gotta be a end game strategy here doesn’t there ? And we stupid fans just don’t see it.

  26. I pose that as more of a question then a statement. I’m sure there’s some sort of plan in place obviously. And it’s not like fans didn’t have to listen to the spin for the three years they kept playing Lind before admittedly he finally produced albeit in a year where he was playing for his contract option. I just don’t wanna see JPA as the starting catcher next season.

  27. Seriously????? You gotta be fuckin kiddin . Slow day huh?

  28. I think this had everything to do with keeping him off the qualified batter list when his average slipped well below .200 and there were no longer enough at-bats to bring it up. So then they started looking at the math from the other side – keeping him out of the lineup. It’s incredibly naive to think that what was on every fan’s mind when they saw the scoreboard was not on the mind of gibby, Jp, and everyone else, and problem solving mode kicks in somewhere. I’m sure nobody wants to have an “official” season end below that mark in their career, so this was likely a big favour to JP, perhaps subtle and unannounced, perhaps just the opposite.

    Again the obvious way to correct a sub-200 average is to play more, not less, but when it was clear that wasn’t going to work I think they went with the other option.

    I don’t think this had as much to do with OBP. Nearly everyone I talk to about JP cites his below-Mendoza-line batting average, and never his even worse (and more relevant) OBP.

  29. [...] We’ll start off today’s morning brew I want to point you all in the direction of an excellent story over at DJF. What begins as a post about Maicer Izturis becomes a much more in depth look at how the front office has behaved an awful lot like a chicken (or Blue Jay) with it’s head cut off. For all the shrewd maneuvers to get draft picks and dump bloated contract there is starting to be an underlying sense that this team might not really know what they’re doing or planning to do. And also at DJF you can see a new way to be annoyed with J.P. Arencibia who has made it more difficult for people to label his disaster of a season. [...]

  30. I can understand people’s frustrations with the player, but a takeaway I had this year is that he had a .890 OPS batting sixth, which gives good hope for the future

  31. Looking more at the splits. He batted .114 with two strike. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

  32. [...] over at DJF Andrew Stoeten brings up another piece on everyone’s whipping boy J.P Arencibia and a [...]

  33. [...] adds up to give him what would have been the second worst OBP of all time (.227), except he curiously missed the qualification threshold by five plate [...]

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