White Sox utility player making the most of opportunity during rebuilding season. The South Siders have benefited from his production in 2017.
After making his MLB debut in 2013, former utility infielder/outfielder, now starting center fielder for the Chicago White Sox, Leury Garcia has shown the impact that not too many people thought he could have on a Major League team. Granted with a starting job, Garcia is making the most of his playing time, becoming one of the more impactful players in the Sox lineup this season.
Garcia, 26, defected from the Dominican Republic back in 2012. He signed with the Texas Rangers and spent half a season with the team before being traded to the White Sox for Alex Rios back in August of 2013.
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Back then, Garcia was ranked the 20th ranked prospect in the Rangers system and was raved for his plus speed and his defensive abilities. Garcia would make brief trips to the Sox for the next three seasons, compiling a woeful batting average under .220 with just 13 RBI’s and 20 stolen bases. He was used as a call up for an injury replacement at the big league level for the Sox, or a constant call up in September when the rosters expanded to 40 players.
When it came to the start of spring training this season, the switch hitting Dominican was presented with his first opportunity to win a starting job out of spring training. Unfortunately, at the time, luck did not fall in Garcia’s favor as he did not win the starting job. Jacob May would ultimately win the starting job. However, the 25-year-old rookie center fielder lost the starting job after just one month in the majors. Fast forward to now, and Garcia has proven to be one of the best center fielders in the American League this season.
Since May was sent down on May 1st, the Sox really did not have any other option to give the job to their versatility utility man. Coincidentally, it was the best thing that they could have done. Garcia currently owns a slash line of .292/.343/.466 with 6 home runs, 21 RBIs, and a team leading five stolen bases in 49 games. As stated earlier, Garcia was acquired with the plus tools of his fielding and his speed on the bases, the thing that has been holding him back is his ability with the bat. With how this season has begun for Garcia, it appears that he is tapping into his true potential.
For Garcia, his WAR (Wins Above Replacement) this season has already doubled his WAR for his entire career (1.8 this season, 0.8 for this career). The 1.8 WAR for Garcia only trails Avisail Garcia for the team lead. Leury’s other impressive sabermatric statistic, has been his OPS+ (a stat used to culminate every offensive statistic down to one number). A league average OPS+ would be 100, Garcia’s this season, sits at a whopping 122.