The White Sox are beginning to get into the full swing of things, despite Mother Nature’s early season disgust for enjoyable baseball games.
After a promising start to the 2018 campaign, the White Sox have had a rough stretch of games.
The “we’re not worried, we’re rebuilding” card should keep fans comfortable. But if the Sox can take any positives from these bad losses, which they should, it’s that the shape of their team is becoming clearer.
And the shape of their team going forward has to include one Avisail Garcia.
What to do with the outfielder?
After one season of brilliant baseball, many are not still sure of what to do with Garcia. His trade value remains high but just high enough to make the White Sox question if they should give up a player with his talent.
But the decision should be simple.
The Sox need to make sure he has a spot on the roster, at the minimum, for the remainder of this season. Because if Garcia is hitting for another ball club, it will probably come back to bite the White Sox.
A player on a mission
This season Garcia has been on a mission to prove that last year’s brilliance was no fluke. And brilliance it certainly was. Garcia’s .330 batting average was the highest for a White Sox player since Frank Thomas (the greatest White Sox hitter) hit .347 back in 1997. In ’97, Thomas reached third place in MVP voting, became an All-Star, and won a batting title.
Garcia had career highs in hits, runs, doubles, triples, home runs, RBI, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and on-base plus slugging percentage in 2017. It was his best season by far. What’s even better than this is the same reason why the White Sox need to keep him in that #26 jersey. He’s only 26 years old.
He’s just entering his prime
George Springer, Nolan Arenado, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Giancarlo Stanton, and Mike Trout are a few of the game’s youngest and brightest stars but all of them are between the ages of 26 and 28 years old. Not to force Garcia’s name into the conversation of the game’s elite, but it goes to show that he’s just barely hitting his prime and he’s getting comfortable with the MLB game. Better late than never after six MLB seasons.
Garcia took a much different approach in 2017 than his previous five seasons in the Majors and carrying that 2017 success into this year might make or break his career.
Starting off 2018 with quality numbers
He’s 13 for 49 (.265) with four extra-base hits and the longest home run hit by a White Sox player in the Statcast Era. He’s recorded five multi-hit games in eleven games played. Garcia has only failed to record a hit in only four of eleven games. He might not hit 30 home runs this season – even though he might have the power to – but his primary concern is much more team-oriented and to this point in his career, much more successful compared to his first five seasons.
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His on-base percentage was a lowly .310 in his five seasons combined prior to 2017. But last season, his OBP was .380, which was good enough for sixth-highest in the American League. And fifth-highest among all MLB outfielders. He changed his approach from wanting to rock everything out of the park. By settling for base hits and doubles, he has earned the .330 batting average. This was the third-highest in the entire MLB, second-highest in the AL behind MVP Jose Altuve.
Why the Sox should keep Garcia at the Trade Deadline
A player who finished in the top five in batting average and on-base percentage among all outfielders – that’s three per-team – should not be in the “flip at the deadline” category. The only other MLB outfielder to finish top five in batting average and on-base percentage was Charlie Blackmon, who finished fifth in MVP voting, won the Silver Slugger award and was voted to the All-Star team in 2017. And if you’re wondering, Blackmon is 31-years-old, five years older than Garcia.
Garcia’s value in a trade offers a great return because he’s a great offering piece. He looks every bit of his 2017 self. If he can bring a .300-plus batting average, a .375-plus on-base percentage, along with 20 home runs to the table, he deserves to be a part of the plans for the future moving forward, hands down.