Avisail Garcia had a career-best season for the White Sox in 2017. Can fantasy owners trust his success, or is it just a mirage?
It finally happened. The much awaited, and projected breakout from White Sox’ outfielder, Avisail Garcia, finally occurred last season. After years of his raw talent being lauded in scout circles, and fantasy owners alike falling for the praise, he put it all together to post a .330/18 HR/80 RBI/.885 OPS line in 2017. Yet, can fantasy now believe in him as a perennial fantasy target?
Garcia posted career-highs in nearly every offensive category. He may leave a lot to love on the defensive side of things, but he was one of the most consistent fantasy performers in 2017.
In terms of the positives, Garcia lowered is K rate to 20%, a 5% drop from 2016. His BB rate only clocked in at 6%, but he offset that with his career-high 72% Contact rate and 50 XBH.
In terms of his batted ball data, he posted solid 19% LD, 49% Med, and 35% Hard contact rates. He ranked in the top-20 out of all MLB hitters in terms of “barreling” balls up and became much more aggressive on pitches in the zone. He swung at 83% of pitches in the zone, a 4% from his career norm, and a 7% increase from 2016.
Garcia attributed his success to getting his weight under control and trusting his hands more. In terms of his power, it certainly helped that his Pull rate jumped 6%, allowing him to work friendly areas of ballparks instead up the middle.
The White Sox saw Gacia’s breakout not only extend to his seasonal line but also in his splits. After not hitting above .260 against RHP, and .225 versus LHH, Garcia mashed versus both in 2017. Against righties, he posted a .298/16 HR/60 RBI/.837 OPS line. Versus LHH, a .424/2 HR/20 RBI/1.030 OPS line over 132 at-bats.
His line would have been even better, if not for a thumb injury in July which limited him to only 2 HR between July, and most of Aug. Yet, injuries have been a theme throughout his career. Which leads us to the negatives.
Garcia’s batted ball line was not horrible, but he continued to beat the ball into the ground at a 55% rate. With power being the one area that fantasy owners continually waited to come around, 50%+ GB hitters are hard to trust.
He also benefited from a .392 BABIP as well, and for a guy that is by no means a speedster, that rate is hard to trust when AVG is so integral to his fantasy value. With the power hard to think is repeatable, and the AVG destined to come down, counting stats would have to help buoy his value.
Unfortunately, even if Garcia gets a prime spot in the order, the White Sox lack any consistent threat out of Jose Abreu. Welington Castillo helps, but for Garcia to build his RBI totals someone out of the group of Yoan Moncada, Charlie Tilson, or even Tim Beckham, will have to take a leap forward to offer Garcia chances.
When looking at Avisail Garcia’s full profile, it is easy to see why fantasy intrigue is still there. But, there are still plenty of red flags, and he is still the free swinger we know. His current ADP is around 185 overall, or right near being the 60th OF off the board.
Fantasy owners would be better off taking guys like Marwin Gonzalez, Trey Mancini, Aaron Altherr, or even Corey Dickerson, who are all in that range.
Let someone else take the plunge of Garcia’s breakout heading into 2018.