Avisail Garcia: Super Enigma

If Avisail hits 25 home runs this season, 17 of them might be like the one he lifted off of Clayton Kershaw this Spring. A slow breaker that most right-handed hitters can spray into right field, Garcia can spray into the bleachers. That's not poor discipline and that's not selling out for home runs; that's raw power, and that's how it makes a difference.

But there's a bad reason Garcia might hit for power this way, because seeing him turn on a fastball is still a rarity.

 Credit: Texas Leaguers

Credit: Texas Leaguers

He does it every now and then, and Garcia crushing a 94 mph Danny Salazar fastball deep into the nether regions of Progressive Field's left-center seats is still one of the best moments of 2013 that happened after you stopped paying attention.

Yet he should be doing it a lot more if these handy-dandy ESPN Data heat maps are any indication, which show a lot of ability to generate power on pitches on the inner-half.

 Credit: ESPN Stats & Information

Credit: ESPN Stats & Information

Like many power hitters before him, Garcia can punish what comes in his kitchen, but he often works against pitchers who might decide to make the trip. Hawk and Stone raved about his plate coverage in Spring Training, but Garcia is too eager to show it. He can poke at nearly any strike and strives for even greater coverage than that. Since he's not early-2000s Ichiro, his aggression provides for one of the biggest whiff rates in baseball despite a fairly splendid natural hit tool.

I have a hard time believing that Jose Abreu has much more in the way of raw power and strength than Garcia, but his game is engineered differently. Rather than wait for something to drive, Avisail...well, he chases for something to drive. As a result, all of Garcia's tools are arranged in opposition of each other. His massive natural power makes him gun for power swings (unnecessarily), which play even worse with his attempts to cover every part of the plate.

It can be said that Garcia needs more patience or a shorter swing, but at a certain point these become conversations about how great everything would be if circumstances were completely different. We're getting ahead ourselves debating whether Garcia should be a free-swinging high-average guy or should focus on turning his raw strength in for power production, since his garishly high swinging-strike and ground-ball rate suggests he might not wind up very proficient at either.

Once you get over the delight that there's something worth watching and following in the White Sox outfield, the notion of the franchise resting on the shoulders of Garcia are somewhat terrifying. He's got a lot more natural ability, but Dayan Viciedo might have arrived with more polish.

That's not explicitly an expression of doubt of Garcia, but more to emphasize how long the road is between where everyone thinks and hopes he could be and where he is now. This is the stuff that's worth watching even if the Sox are losing games, and the stakes might wind up being a lot higher anyway.

 

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