As a Milwaukee Brewer, Orlando Arcia was defined by moments more than stat lines.
He often came up big in big moments. Even more often, he did just enough to get to the next batter, to drive in a run, to win the day. He was beloved for bringing fun and joy to the club, the field, and the dugout.
A fitting commemorative post for Arcia’s time as a Brewer features his clutch moments at the plate, goofiness in the dugout, plenty of snacks, all the enthusiasm of the end of a home run gauntlet. It should probably just begin with eleven minutes of defensive highlights.
This post was brought to you by you, Orlando Arcia fans. Thanks to Ana @orlandosarcia, @mjames323, @johnald90, bucky1gizmo2. Spaul149, sports?, nanook1207, Echo127. icelandreliant, Duhawk Steve, keephopealive, 77webm, MrSeptember, SANDYTOLAN, Mtcunning3, kruejoe, AKBrewfan, Uncle Father Oscar, nullacct, cheesehead94, and MrLeam for their contributions.
Orlando Arcia made his major league debut as a Milwaukee Brewer in August 2016. At the time, he was the Brewers’ top prospect. Hopes were high for Arcia, who hit .267 with eight homers and 53 RBIs over 100 games with then Triple-A affiliate Colorado Springs Sky Sox and performed even better at the plate in Double-A. He was called up after the Brewers traded catcher Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress to the Texas Rangers. 2016’s Baseball Prospectus gushed over Arcia, remarking that the Brewers hadn’t “produced a young talent like this since Braun and Fielder.”
Orlando Arcia’s debut in Aug. 2016 was such a highlight. In six seasons he gave web gems, walk offs, 4 hits in game 163, hugs at the end of every home run gauntlet. Always a smile on his face and had the most fun on the field. Gracias, El Niño! #ThisIsMyCrew pic.twitter.com/HgRHXTWbNw— Sophia Minnaert (@SophiaMinnaert) April 6, 2021
There was every reason to maintain enthusiasm for Arcia at the beginning of 2017. He displayed brilliant moments in the field, and though he struggled at the plate in 2016, his .219/.273/.358 slash line across 201 plate appearances adjusted to .260/.302/.450. He did improve at the plate in 2017, slashing .324/.407/.731 and hitting 15 home runs and 53 RBIs. Baseball Prospectus pegged him as the 4th best shortstop in the league and the league leader in Fielding Runs Above Average.
Arcia was fun to watch in the infield, but he was also just plain fun. Check out this moment from July 3, 2017. The Brewers had a comfortable lead over the Orioles in the third inning. Arcia gets caught in a run-down, somehow evades the tag, and slides into home to advance the lead.
This was a very fun Orlando Arcia moment pic.twitter.com/2P3ohVBfil— Curt Hogg (@CyrtHogg) April 6, 2021
Speaking of baserunning, remember when Arcia hit that inside the park home run against the Padres?
He became increasingly known for his sense of humor and show-stopping plays like this one, ranging past second base, spinning on the throw to get John Jaso at first to secure the 4-3 win over the Pirates on July 21, 2017.
Arcia also started shining brightest when the lights were bright, and the moment was clutch. One such early moment came on September 23, 2017, with the Cubs leading the Brewers, 2-1.
Arcia led off the ninth inning with the Cubs’ Wade Davis is on the mound. The first pitch was high and away, and he swung through it. The game call points out how Wade Davis hasn’t blown a save in over a year, and as if on cue, Arcia smokes a ball into the left field corner that just stays fair to tie the game. Travis Shaw went on to walk it off with a home run in the tenth. It was Shaw’s first walk-off hit and a massive win for the Crew.
Arcia’s many clutch offensive moments in 2018 juxtapose strangely with his overall year at the plate. He struggled so mightily that he was sent down to the minor leagues twice to correct his plate woes. By 2018, Arcia had shifted dramatically from his prospect years, which projected him batting second in the lineup. That spot, of course, was then occupied by breakout MVP Christian Yelich. Meanwhile, Arcia was mostly quiet at the plate, his day-to-day value concentrated in his glove. When the game was on the line and Arcia was at the plate, though, he came up big.
Late-game heroics were almost commonplace for the 2018 Brewers, and it didn’t take long for Arcia to get at-bats with the game on the line. On April 6, 2018, Orlando Arcia came to the plate with one out in the ninth, the Cubs and Brewers tied 4-4. Manny Piña was on third, having advanced when Hernán Pérez reached on a Kris Bryant throwing error. Arcia hit to the gap into right field, bat flipped, and drove in Piña to secure the win.
Arcia’s walk-off hit in the 15th inning, August 24, 2018, during the Player’s Weekend Pirates contest, was the most commonly referenced fan-favorite Arcia moment. The Brewers got off to an early four-run lead against the Pirates, who just kept chipping away until Starling Marte tied the game 4-4 with a full count, two-out RBI. The score would remain tied until the 15th inning when a fielding jumble between Christian Yelich and Jonathan Schoop in right allowed two runs to score and brought Pirates up 6-4. Jesús Aguilar, Hernán Pérez, even reliever Jordan Lyles have reached to load the bases for Eric Kratz. Kratz singles into left, scoring Aguilar and Pérez, advancing Lyles to second, and bringing Orlando Arcia to bat. Arcia smacks a base hit into right. Gregory Polanco fields it and throws it home, but the throw is too late and too wide and Jordan Lyles scores, securing the 7-6 Brewer win in the 15th. Arcia is anointed with an anticipated Gatorade shower in a particularly triumphant moment at Miller Park.
Speaking of Player’s Weekend, remember when Orlando Arcia put Sweedish Fish in Jesús Aguilar’s helmet?
...and on that note, remember Arcia playing with Hernán Pérez’s top knot?
...or when he tried to help Jesús Aguilar replace his broken belt?
On September 14, 2018, the Brewers were racing for the division title. They were 1 ½ games behind the Cubs, who had just notched a come-from-behind victory against the Reds. The Crew was surging, winning 16 of their last 22, but needed a win to keep pace in the standings. Arcia came off the bench in the fifth and got three hits in three at-bats. Arcia’s second at-bat came in the sixth inning with one out, runners on second and third, Brewers with a narrow 4-3 lead over the Pirates. Arcia’s a skilled bunter, and with the infield pulled in and off the line, he showed bunt and made contact. The ball dribbled up the left-field line, stayed fair, rolled past the pulled-in infield, past first base, and into shallow right field while Arcia rounded first. Mike Moustakas scored. Domingo Santana scored. The unlikely hit, a two-run bunt double, advanced the Brewers’ lead over the Pirates to 6-4. The Brewers went on to win, 7-4.
The Brewers kept racing for the division title in 2018, which brought us to a favorite game in the recent collective memory of Brewers fans, game 163 against the Chicago Cubs. As all Game 163s, it was a must-win, and the Brewers needed seven the previous consecutive wins to get there. The contest featured a stellar opener by Jhoulys Chacin (5.2 innings, one hit, one run, two walks, three K’s), run-scoring singles by Lorenzo Cain, Chrisitan Yelich, and Ryan Braun, and a dominant two-inning close by Josh Hader. In 2018, it was a lot of what you could expect. Few people expected Orlando Arcia, who produced four hits in four at-bats and cross home plate for two of the Brewers’ three runs in their 3-1 victory over the Cubs.
Arcia continued to have a great series in the 2018 NLCS, which left the Brewers one game removed from the World Series. Arcia was among the series leaders in runs (he led the team with five), hits (nine, only Lorenzo Cain had more with 10), RBIs (three, a smattering of Brewers produced three and four), and home runs (two).
In 2019, Arcia made some improvements in advanced offensive metrics like exit velocity and walked more. Still, he struggled at the plate overall, and the mounting pressure to improve offensively likely harmed his overall performance. Though dazzling plays at shortstop were plenty commonplace for Arcia in 2019, he also became more inconsistent defensively.
Arcia still came up big in big moments, including this fan favorite from May 27’s contest against the Minnesota Twins. The Twins had the best record in the major leagues and were on a six-game winning streak. Arcia drove in three runs on two hits, both for extra bases. His big moment of the day came in the top of the 8th inning when Arcia hit a go-ahead home run to put the Brewers ahead, 5-4. The Brewers would hold on to the lead to win the game and break the Twins’ streak.
Arcia made significant offensive strides in a COVID-19 shortened 2020. In bizarre fashion true to 2020, Arcia’s offensive WAR jumped from -0.4 to 0.7 while producing a negative defensive WAR for the first time in his career. He was one of the most offensively consistent Brewers in a year when the Brewers’ offense, and that of much of the league, was on the skids.
After a Spring Training and regular season interrupted by COVID-19, the regular-season opener came against the Chicago Cubs on July 24, 2020. Arcia produced the Crew’s only three hits in the contest, setting the stage for what would be his best offensive season since 2017. Maybe it was the hand sanitizer from Anthony Rizzo.
Arcia snuck in one more fan-favorite moment before the trade that would bring him to Atlanta.
Opening Day, April 1, was another classic against the Twins. With one out the ninth inning, the Brewers were down 2-5 and hadn’t led in the contest. The Brewers rallied behind a soft grounder from Keston Hiura and the subsequent throwing error from Twins pitcher Alex Colomé. The error brought Christian Yelich to the plate, still with one out. Yelich smoked an RBI single to right. The knock scored Kolten Wong, advanced Hiura to second, and brought the Brewers within two runs of the tie. The game was tied 5-5 when Lorenzo Cain grounded out to send the Brewers into extra innings. Josh Hader struck out the side in the top of the tenth. His fastball reached triple-digits and averaged 98+ mph.
Cain reappeared as the runner on second to start the tenth. Omar Narváez singled to right, recovering from a defensive blunder in the top of the tenth and advancing Lorenzo Cain to third. Orlando Arcia came to the plate off the bench. It was the first Opening Day he did not get the start at shortstop since 2017. He swung at the first pitch that came his way, a 90 mph sinker, and chopped it to the infield grass. The hit had just enough zip to give Lorenzo Cain time to bolt 90 feet, slide headfirst into home, beat the tag, and score the winning run. It was MLB’s first walk-off of the year and likely, Arcia’s last big moment as a Milwaukee Brewer.
Orlando Arcia will hopefuly have the chance to make more highlight reel moments with Atlanta. He’s currently at the club’s alternate training site.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference
Past season analysis courtesy of Baseball Prospectus