Nobody expected Orlando Arcia to come into Opening Day as the Braves starting shortstop six months ago. But even when that happened, even fewer people expected him to have much success.
When Orlando Arcia came up with the Brewers, he was a highly touted young star, known for his elite defense, with the potential to grow into a more than competent offensive player. The glove was apparent, but the bat never came along, eventually leading to Milwaukee parting ways with him, trading him to the Braves for Patrick Weigel.
At the time, it looked like nothing more than a depth piece addition. Little did we know, Arcia would blossom into one of the best bargains in the league a year later.
Arcia had success filling in for the injured Ozzie Albies in 2022. In fact, he put up the best wRC+ (104) of his career by a wide margin. His previous career high came back in 2020, when he recorded a wRC+ of 97, but that season was only 60 games. Most assumed that, over a larger sample size, he would revert to the offensive player he’s been for basically his entire career. But he’s been given a second chance as a starter with the Braves, and he’s established himself as the starting shortstop for the foreseeable future in Atlanta.
Arcia was deservedly named the starting shortstop for the NL All-Star team, but that still didn’t convince many about his standing within the organization. Most still think severe regression is in his future, and it might be; but if it is, it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen this season.
Despite some offensive lulls from time to time, like he is going through right now, Orlando Arcia always seems to come out the other side red-hot. I see no reason why that won’t happen again, and at the end of the season, he’ll be up there with the best offensive shortstops in the game while playing more than adequate defense.
Do I expect Orlando Arcia to be participating in next year’s All-Star Game for the National League? Probably not, but his defense alone puts him in a better standing with the organization than Vaughn Grissom, and he’s on his way to setting career highs in every offensive category. The Braves might eventually have to start thinking about finding a long-term replacement at shortstop, but as far as 2024 is concerned, the answer is obvious. Orlando Arcia should be the starting shortstop for the Atlanta Braves on Opening Day next year.
Photo: Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire