White Sox: Avisail Garcia is Channeling Steve Garvey

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 23: Avisail Garcia
CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 23: Avisail Garcia /
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Avisail Garcia
SEATTLE, WA – MAY 20: Avisail Garcia /

Could Garcia end up like Steve Garvey?

I’m reminded of Steve Garvey when I consider what might be possible. Garvey reached 200 hits in three consecutive seasons. Twice (1974-1976, 1978-1980). And the 1977 season, the one in between those two streaks in which he had only 192 hits, saw him hit 33 home runs and 115 RBIs to go with a .297 average. Not bad for a down year. I remember that season. He changed his focus to produce more power and drive in more runs to help fulfill his team’s needs. For the years ‘77-80 as compared to ‘74-76, Garvey increased his average home run total 9.7 per year and RBI total 15.7…while shaving but eight points from his batting average. All by intent.

I might look for the same from Garcia moving forward. We might not see .330 again, but we could. What I really expect to see is an increase in runs scored to the tune of 90-100. And honestly, I would welcome that outcome. 90 runs scored is completely realistic, since it’s the 162-game pace he delivered based on the 75 runs scored in 136 games in 2017.

The Sox could bat him second to get the extra at-bats, allow his high contact rate to compensate for Tim Anderson’s low on-base average, and you likely will have either one if not both serving as table-setters in front of the one-man wrecking machine in Abreu. I believe the average will stabilize at or near the .300 level. Would you take .300 / 90 R / 15 HR / 80 RBI? I’ll bet the Sox would.

Incidentally, Garvey never hit .330. Before I get lit up on social media, in his first ever season he did have one hit in three at-bats – which technically represents a .333 average – but I would consider this an outlier and certainly not enough AB to be eligible for the batting title. Garvey with all his numbers also never had a slugging percentage of .506, which Garcia did in 2017. Are you starting to sense the impact of the change of this kid’s approach and the season he delivered with it?

Hank Aaron once told me that when he was young he was a line drive hitter, but it wasn’t until he was older and began swinging down on the ball that the homers started to come. The change he explained was the backspin that came from the downswing made the ball float and sail further.

Garcia hit more home runs in 2017 than ever before in his 10-year professional career. He might never hit a lot of home runs, but he is likely to make a lot of contact. There will be some carry as he matures, but I think it’s more likely that he’ll continue to get on base with increasing RBI and runs scored totals. From the “What if?” file, I would love to see what his numbers would have looked like had he batted right in front of Abreu for all the 136 games he played this past season.

Next: Trade Market for Jose Abreu May Develop More During Winter Meetings

On whether to trade or keep him I’ll withhold comment. However, he is a very capable player and more mature than he’s given credit for. We may continue to be surprised if the White Sox continue to invest in his potential.