Monday, September 14, 2015
The Twins Second Ortiz
At 21 years-old, Ortiz made his major league debut for the Twins. A power hitting prospect, Ortiz was expected to hold down the heart of the lineup for years to come. In his first 15 games, he slashed .327/.353/.449 with one home run, and six runs batted in. Still needing to grow into his frame, it was a promising start for what was always expected to be more.
Fast forward six seasons, and Ortiz had compiled a .266/.348/.461 slash line for Minnesota. His 58 home runs and 238 RBI averaged out to just 9.6 and 39.6 per year respectively. For a guy who left plenty to be desired in the field, the paltry numbers weren't going to help a Twins team looking to turn the corner. Terry Ryan made the decision to hand Ortiz his walking papers.
In the 13 seasons since, Ortiz has gone on to become "Big Papi" for the Boston Red Sox. He's compiled a .289/.385/.566 slash line and has launched 442 homers with 1,390 runs batted in. Ortiz launched 30 or more home runs nine times in that span, and has been at the heart of three World Series titles.
Forget the fact that Ortiz likely won't be getting his due in Cooperstown any time soon (he can thank PEDs for that), or that he's tortured the Twins throughout his career. Minnesota may be in a position to watch it unfold all over again.
At the age of 22, back in 2013, Minnesota saw the debut of Venezuelan outfielder Oswaldo Arcia. Like Ortiz, Arcia was an expected power threat that couldn't be much more than a defensive liability. In his first 219 games for Minnesota, Arcia has slashed .243/.305/.437. The Twins have seen 36 home runs from Arcia, and he's driven in 108 runs, those are numbers Minnesota would have liked to see in a single year.
Outside of the defensive issues, Arcia has a couple of other pretty large detractors working against him. Inside of the batter's box, Arcia owns a career 259/58 K/BB ratio. That equates to roughly 4.5 strikeouts per walks, and striking out in about one-third of his at bats. Then there's the attitude problems. A guy who rarely seems to show max effort, and often reacts emotionally, Minnesota has failed to draw his full potential.
Now with 2015 coming to a close, and 2016 being a pivotal point, Terry Ryan will have to decide his plan of action.
Arcia enters 2016 out of options. Should he start the season with the Twins, Minnesota would have to expose him to waivers in sending him to the farm. On a team that already is going to have Byron Buxton, Aaron Hicks, and Eddie Rosario in the outfield, Arcia is going to struggle to find time. Should he play in a reserve role, Arcia will then have his maturity and resolve tested.
As things stand, the path Arcia has traveled has somewhat resembled Ortiz's career for the Twins. While I'm not ready to say Arcia figures it out for someone else, I'm also not sure I'd be ok with Terry Ryan finding out. The last player the Twins let get away should be someday preparing a Hall of Fame speech, the next one they may let get away has a crossroads approaching very soon.