A Catching Conundrum
Since 2010 among all qualified catchers, Arencibia (3rd) and Soto (5th) are in the bottom five of 27 catchers in both leagues in contact percentage at the plate. Arencibia has made contact only 72.9% of the time with Soto only connecting at 74.8 percent. This number alone isn’t a concern as long as the hitter is able to maximize the contact when they do connect. Say what you want about the legitimacy of BABIP (Batting Average for Balls in Play), but if you have a low contact percentage it’s imperative that when the hitter does make contact something productive happens. Using the same group, from 2010-2013 the lowest BABIP among qualified catchers from both leagues belongs to J.P. Arencibia (.250). Geovany Soto is ninth with a BABIP of .281, which is just slightly below former Ranger catcher A.J. Pierzynski (.285). If you need another number to make you leery of our catching platoon this season, Arencibia leads that same group of catchers in strikeout percentage from ’10-’13 with a 30.1% and Soto is fifth at 24.4%. So, Arencibia and Soto don’t make a lot of contact when they swing and Arencibia doesn’t do much with it when he does make contact AND they strike out a bunch. Why in the world are the Rangers going with these guys this season then?
Arencibia has the ability to hit the ball a long, long ways. Much like Mike Napoli, he will swing and miss (Mike Napoli has the most strikeouts among qualified catchers since 2010) a bunch, but Arencibia also has the ability to drive in runs via the long ball. J.P. has hit 64 homeruns since 2010 (5th among all catchers) and with what the Rangers have done this off-season in addressing their lack of power in 2013, it makes perfect sense why Arencibia fits for this season. Soto has hit 54 homers during the same stretch and is 12th of 27 qualified catchers. Much like we got used to the Ian Kinsler pop up, it appears that Rangers fans better get used to the J.P. Arencibia and Soto strikeout, but hopefully their ability to drive the ball out of the park on occasion will be enough to give this lineup what it needs to be a contender in 2014.