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“That’s Amore!” Is This The Real Avisail Garcia?

When Garcia was acquired in the three-team deal that sent Jake Peavy to Boston, I felt the White Sox were finally getting that young, power bat that they’ve searched for since the days of Carlos Lee. Only turning 26, it feels as if the young outfielder has been around forever. He’s shown flashes of solid production, but injuries have seen occasional spells on the disabled list. Early into the 2017 season, Garcia looks to have finally figured out Major League pitching. Entering Monday, he sits 12th in MLB with a .328 average to go along with a slash line of .328/.373/.550. This week, I wanted to focus on the overdue emergence of the White Sox right fielder in “That’s Amore!” Is This The Real Avisail Garcia?

I’m guilty of drafting Garcia in past years only to find myself releasing him for one reason or another. At times, it was injuries (most notably the suffered torn labrum in 2014) that forced me to see him off my roster, and numerous times it was due to lack of production (2015 & 2016). However, the potential has always been there. Sometimes, I feel as if I get to greedy, or anxious, for young bats to produce when we see young stars such as: Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Kris Bryant, Carlos Correa, and Corey Seager produce from the get-go. In a perfect world this would be the case for every young hitter, but it’s unrealistic. A majority of hitters face a learning curve that is the complete opposite of the aforementioned hitters, and of course there are the dreaded injury bugs. Finally healthy, Garcia has put together a phenomenal first two months of the season, and looks to shatter his career bests of every statistical category.

He had a successful minor league career slashing .291/.326/.412 in 2276 at-bats. It’s surprising that the power numbers weren’t better as he only accumulated 46 home runs in the better part of eight seasons. Why is this surprising? At 6’4″ 240lbs, he’s built like a linebacker, and there’s no reason why he can’t generate mass amounts of power through his legs. What could’ve been a direct  correlation to the lack of power? Striking could have been part of it. He struck out at clip of 22.27% in the minors. No stranger to the strikeout, Garcia entered 2017 with a career K% of 24.07%. Through the first two months, he’s managed his strikeouts to a respectable 20.0.%. This alone has allowed Garcia to flourish in 2017.

While honing in on plate discipline, I started looking at his different swing percentages. Early into his career, he had a low Z-Swing% of 77.4% (2012-2016) accompanied with a Z-Contact% of 81.52%. Again, this season has been different as both his Z-Swing% and Z-Contact% are at a career high of 79.2% and 85.8% respectively. Because of his aggressiveness at pitches in the zone, he also sits above his career average in overall Contact% at 73.5%. He’s been extremely successful at being aggressive while ahead in the count. Throughout his career he’s struggled when ahead in the count hitting only .216. This season he’s hitting a solid .310 while ahead in the count. Again, having success while ahead in the count will only help a batter’s performance. The only outlier I can find is the fact that he’s still struggling with the bases loaded (career: .168 & 2017: .182). In case you were wondering just as I was, Pat Tabler hold the highest career batting average at .489 with the bases loaded. A long story short, Garcia’s ability to hit while ahead in the count has had a positive correlation to his success early in the 2017 season.

In terms of batted ball, Garcia has gotten around on numerous pitches. This has led to a 45.8 Pull% that is 8.8 higher than his career-average. When it comes to Soft, Medium, and Hard percentages he’s around his career averages with the most notable number being the 52.2 Med%. What does this tell me? I see a hitter who is locked on. He’s hitting lefties (.447/.469/.660) and righties (.290/.340/.519) at a successful rate. His home/away split has been equally as consistent seeing him slash .338/.372/.554 at home, and .327/.375/.558 on the road. While he may not be looking to crush every ball, he’s not making weak contact either. He’s making consistent, solid contact and this can be correlated to his career-best 52.2 Med%, and slash line of .328/.373/.550.

What can we expect for fantasy owners? With ADPs of: ESPN: 260, Yahoo: 198.8, and Fantrax: 449, I find it hard to believe Garcia was heavily targeted. I’d say it’s safe to assume he wasn’t kept any many, if any, leagues, and was drafted as a fourth or fifth outfielder. Of course, I’m positive many owners snatched him off the waiver wire within the first few weeks. There’s no question Garcia’s going to set career-highs in almost every statistical category. The only category I see him falling short in is stolen bases. Seven is his career high, and he’s 0-2 this season. Regardless, 20+ HR, 80+ runs scored, and coming close to 100 RBI are within reach. As the summer approaches, and the All-Star Game comes into focus, it is clear owners need to decide what to do with Avisail Garcia. If you own him, more than likely he isn’t one of your top two, possibly three, outfielders. If he is, you either drafted poorly or have had some rough luck. Again, he’s only turning 26 so he still has time to make a career for himself. Also, he’s in his contract-year, and we all know how professional athletes produce in their last season of a contract. Personally, I’d recommend moving him. Will he keep up his torrid start? I can’t imagine him hovering around .328/.373/.550 throughout an entire season. Teams will start adjusting to the fact he’s eager to get ahead in the count, and we could see more swings and misses as the summer progresses. Realistically, I see him coming down to a .280/.325/.440 slash line. Honestly, I’m not sure what would be a realistic expectation in a trade. I think you could go out and acquire pitching. I’ve concentrated on pitching heavily this season, as I’ve had a string of bad luck. Do your due diligence and try to acquire a struggling ace. You never know what could happen based on another team’s needs. Either way, Garcia is red-hot, and if he keeps this up, he will look like a top-5 waiver wire All-Star for 2017.

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Our guests this week are Craig Mish, Craig Mish is the host of a fantasy baseball show on Sirius Satelitte Radio along with Jim Bowden from 9-11am EST Monday through Friday. Craig is also the host for a show on Sirius every Sunday morning with FSWA Hall of Famer Lenny Melnick from 7-10am EST.

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I'm a former collegiate and semi-pro baseball player. Chicago sports are the love of my life [Cubs, Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls] as well as European football. I promise Cubs fans that if Theo can't bring a World Series, I will knock down all doors until I work my way up to GM and bring home a World Series to the Northside of Chicago!

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