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Brewers: Who will be the starting shortstop on Opening Day?

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 01: Orlando Arcia #3 of the Milwaukee Brewers at bat against the Washington Nationals during the National League Wild Card game at Nationals Park on October 1, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 01: Orlando Arcia #3 of the Milwaukee Brewers at bat against the Washington Nationals during the National League Wild Card game at Nationals Park on October 1, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images) /
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Shortstop is basically the biggest position battle the Milwaukee Brewers have in spring training this year. Who will be the initial starter?

After a hand injury, recently-acquired Luis Urias was rumored to be missing Opening Day. But, with him making progress faster than expected, the Milwaukee Brewers are saying he could be making a couple appearances in the Cactus League games after all.

With that, Orlando Arcia has also been stepping up to the plate and hitting bombs, showing a definite offensive change from last season. Who will be the starting shortstop come opening day?

Is Arcia Under Pressure?

People were doubting Arcia come the end of last season, and rightfully so. His offensive skills weren’t up to par and he was the worst hitting shortstop in baseball. It seemed that he was hitting a slump when it came to stepping up to the plate. There has been some noticeable improvement in how Arcia swings the bat and how he is performing just in the last couple of months.

In just five spring games, he is 5-for-13, hitting a double, three home runs, 8 RBIs and has only struck out once. It seems that Arcia is really fighting for his spot on the 26-man Opening Day roster. Bound and determined, Arcia is on a mission, and he’s most certainly making progress in accomplishing that mission.

When he made his big league debut in 2016, Arcia was one of the Brewers’ top prospects with his killer defense. With such a strong defensive background, it wasn’t really necessary for Arcia to be strong offensively. It’s what kept him on the major league roster in 2018 when he was starting to hit his slump but he was eventually sent back to Triple-A to improve. The Brewers were certain that the trip was going to be helpful as he came back and went 11-for-33 in the postseason with three home runs and four RBIs.

That wasn’t the case, unfortunately.

Yet again, Orlando Arcia hit an offensive slump in 2019 and struggled to be a good player at the plate. Hitting 15 home runs with 59 RBIs, Arcia batted .223 in 546 plate appearances with a .633 OPS, making it the worst among shortstops in all of baseball. Not only did his offensive efforts continue to slump, but his defensive runs saved dropped from a seven to a two, per fangraphs.com.

He immediately got to work, working with hitting coaches Andy Haines and Jacob Cruz. They tried to tweak his swing a little to allow him to get a higher swing and get on the inside of the ball to help drive it better. So far, that work is paying off.

The acquisition of Luis Urias really seemed to put this added pressure onto Arcia to make sure that he keeps his Opening Day spot. When Urias was sidelined with a hand injury that required surgery, Arcia’s spot was almost locked and sealed for opening day. This, in a way, has put Arcia in check, letting him know that his position could be put at risk if he hits a slump.

What Does This Mean for The Season?

It’s really up in the air for who is going to be playing shortstop full-time for the 2020 season. If anything, it’s almost guaranteed that Orlando Arcia will get more playing time there compared to Urias given his veteran status. There’s a strong chance that the starting position could change once or twice during the season.

Urias has began  some defensive drills after his hand injury and is set to start getting in some batting practice, but the question of who will play shortstop on Opening Day still remains unanswered. When thinking about if anything works in Urias’ favor, it’s very unlikely that he’ll make the 26-man roster for Opening Day against the Chicago Cubs.

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Even if it’s just spring training and these games don’t really count towards the record, it counts towards how the fans are going to think of the team going into the regular season and how players are going to perform outside of the Cactus League. Seeing how Arcia is performing so far, he’s determined to keep his position as the starting shortstop, and won’t stop fighting for it.

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