Discussion

J.P. Arencibia's power is for real

Updated: June 8, 2011, 2:15 PM ET
By Eric Karabell

Last season, Los Angeles Angels slugger Mike Napoli led all catcher-eligible players with 26 home runs, followed by Brian McCann with 21. In 2009, Joe Mauer led the position with 28 home runs, while Victor Martinez, Jorge Posada and McCann all reached 21 or more. In 2008, McCann and Geovany Soto paced backstops with 23 home runs. So, you know what happened Tuesday that made me think about catchers hitting home runs?

Toronto Blue Jays rookie J.P. Arencibia blasted an eighth-inning shot off Kansas City Royals lefty Tim Collins and became the first catcher to reach 10 home runs this season. Don't scoff at the accomplishment. Over the past 15 seasons, Soto is the only catcher to reach double digits in fewer team games than Arencibia (59 to 61). Arencibia is currently on pace for 27 home runs and 85 RBIs, which really is quite valuable, and it seems unusual.

Sure, Arencibia has flaws, which is why there are 10 other catchers owned in more ESPN standard leagues, including Jonathan Lucroy of the Milwaukee Brewers and slumping New York Yankees backstop Russell Martin, living off his fine April. Arencibia is hitting only .208 against right-handed pitching (.372 off lefties with a 1.205 OPS!), his overall batting average is .249 and let's face it, we don't know if he'll hold up in August and September. But he's always had power, and he's showing it.

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