Braves: Is Orlando Arcia an All-Star?

MLB: JUN 08 Mets at Braves

It is time we start shifting the narrative surrounding Orlando Arcia. He may not have been expected by most to win the starting shortstop job out of Spring Training, but he has taken it and run with it over the first two-plus months of the season.

Defensively, the Braves knew what they were getting in Arcia. That’s why they chose to roll with the veteran initially. He’s one of the better defensive shortstops in the game, but nobody could have predicted what he’s been able to do with the stick.

April 1st was the last time Orlando Arcia had a batting average below .300. That was the second game of the season. He currently sports a .326 average with five homers, an .868 OPS, and a 136 wRC+ (36% above league average). To put that in perspective in terms of his career, he’s never had a wRC+ better than 88 (12% below league average) over a full season, and he boasts a career wRC+ of 78.

However, something seems to have clicked once he arrived in Atlanta. He put up much better offensive numbers as a fill in at second base when Ozzie Albies went down with an injury last year, and now he’s performing at an All-Star level in 2023.

It sounds crazy, but can you name three NL shortstops performing better right now? Dansby Swanson leads all National League players at the position in fWAR. It’s not like he’s having an unbelievable season, but he’s deserving of a starting nod if the game were to take place today. But after that, you could make an argument that Orlando Arcia should be next.

Francisco Lindor, Trea Turner, and Xander Bogaerts are all superstars on $300 million contracts, but none of them have been better than Orlando Arcia, who has already produced 1.5 fWAR… and he missed 20 games with injury! Had he not suffered a micro-fracture in his wrist, we very well could be discussing whether Arcia should be the starting shortstop for the National League All-Star team.

If you had that on your MLB bingo card, I need your lottery numbers.

What makes this even crazier is right before the start of the season, the Braves locked Arcia up to a team friendly extension (Stop me if that sounds familiar). He’s set to make $2 million over the next two seasons and has a $2 million club option for 2026. The Braves have a potential All-Star shortstop locked up for the next three years for a grand total of $6 million. This is beginning to look like one of the best bargains of Alex Anthopoulos’ tenure, which has been chock full of crazy team-friendly extensions.

Last night’s game-tying home run in the ninth inning for Orlando Arcia was a signature moment. He’s not just the Braves starting shortstop for this year; Arcia is here to stay.

Photo: Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire

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