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Course Correction: Avisail Garcia

This Course Correction series is based on the premise that the player I’m writing about did something rather anomalous in 2017. He overperformed, underperformed, or otherwise stood out to me in some regard. You might say that someone who led all qualified hitters in BABIP would qualify for such an examination. You might be right. In fact, if you asked me to name someone off the top of my head who would produce much different numbers in 2018 compared to 2017, this would be the name that escaped my mouth. That name is Avisail Garcia.

Before I go all Negative Nancy on Garcia, I’ll first make the case for him. It won’t take long. First, he’s 26 years old. He should be entering his peak seasons. He was a highly regarded prospect, so the pedigree is there as well. Baseball is hard, and it takes many highly touted prospects a few extra years for everything to click. They also say that the last thing that typically develops for a hitter is power, and Garcia hit a career-best 18 homers last year. That’s six more than in 2016, and it’s not like the power was a fluke. He managed a 35.3% hard-contact rate, also the best of his career. He upped his pull% to 42.6%, yet another high watermark for his career. Considering the ball comes off the bat faster on pulled balls, it is then no surprise that a power spike ensued.


Despite being listed at 240 pounds, Garcia also is not a complete slug on the bases. He stole five bags last year! It’s not much, but it’s not nothing. As I like to say, “Every bit of not nothing helps.” Yep, I’ve been saying that for years. I definitely did not just stumble upon that right now. Anyway, there is also the improvement of his strikeout rate. He chiseled it all the way down to 19.4% last season after a 25.4% K% in 2016. That is downright impressive. Garcia managed to make more contact than he has since 2013 at 72.4%, and a good chunk of that was good contact. He increased his contact in the zone by 1.7%, contact which typically leads to harder contact and a potentially increased BABIP as a result.

Now that I’ve built him up, it’s time to knock him down. We’ll start with the plate discipline and work our way back. You can’t deny how impressive it is to slash 5.6% from your K% from one season to the next, yet most everything else remained largely unchanged. Be impressed by how unimpressive this is!

Garcia’s swinging strike rate improved, but when it’s still 16.2%, that’s sort of like throwing a lawn chair off the Titanic. His contact increased 3.8%, but he is still expanding the strike zone way too much. At 39.8%, his O-swing% is not only relatively unchanged from his career mark, it was the 10th worst rate in MLB. Just for reference, let’s look at his zone profile compared to Joey Votto’s, who very rarely swings at a ball outside of the zone.


That’s what a 24% difference in chase rate looks like. It’s not really fair to put anyone up against the discipline of Votto, but it’s still fun to look at just how stark the contrast is between these hitters. But enough of that, let’s address the stolen bases. Garcia stole five bags and was caught three times. Fantastic! Okay, so it’s true what wise men have always said since the dawn of time, that “every bit of not nothing helps,” but seriously, this guy has 23 steals in 545 games. He’s not going to suddenly start swiping double-digit bases at this point, and it’s more likely that he finishes closer to zero than 10.

Now to the power. We established that Garcia’s 18 homers in 2017 were a career high. Well, 117 players hit 20+ homers last year, meaning even Garcia’s career high was below average! He hit 52% ground balls last year, and it’s hard to put the ball over the fence if you can’t even get it off the ground. If he continues to pull the ball for power, he could push 20 home runs this year, but that isn’t exactly what I’d call upside. He’s the type of player would really benefit from a swing plane adjustment. If he increased his FB% by even 10% and continued to pull the ball, he would enjoy a real power spike. That will bear monitoring in the preseason, but it’s certainly not something we can bank on.

And finally, back to the BABIP. I mentioned it was the highest in the league. Not only is that the case, but his .392 BABIP was .21 points ahead of Charlie Blackmon, whose .371 BABIP ranked second. Yes, his 35.3% hard contact was the best he’s had and hard contact leads to higher BABIPs, but you can’t reach .392 without some extremely good fortune. Back in Part One of my Sabermetric Series, I established that the average BABIP on medium-hit ground balls across the league in 2017 was .202 — not exactly a recipe for success. We established that Garcia is a heavy ground ball hitter, and he managed a .328 BABIP on medium-hit grounders — .126 points above average. Those accounted for 29% of his balls in play. Obviously, it’s easy to say his BABIP will come down, but there you have a good chunk of the “why.”

As the 45th outfielder off the board, ADP 189 overall, it’s not like Garcia is going to cost you a mint in drafts. However, even at that price, I’m hesitant. He provides little speed, below-average power, a batting average that is likely to regress fifty points, and limited R+RBI opportunities in a pretty bad White Sox lineup. He’s not likely to kill you, but there are better options to be had later on in your draft.

Course Correction Series

Yoan Moncada

Javier Baez

Patrick Corbin

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