A Close Look at Avi’s Hot Start

In a perfect world, it wouldn’t be considered an oddity that Avisail Garcia is currently tearing the cover off baseballs at the rate he currently is. Sure, his numbers are a bit inflated due to the small sample size of playing just 20 games so far this season, but in a perfect world White Sox fans would expect those numbers to settle into a healthy norms for a player of Garcia’s size, strength and caliber. And it certainly wouldn’t be strange that Garcia is among the top 10 American League batters in slugging percentage along with Aaron Judge, Joey Gallo, Mike Trout and Khris Davis—all slugging .600 or higher.

But the truth is, it’s Avisail Garcia. We’ve done this dance before. It’s the latest edition of Small Sample Size Theater and it’s still April. Not to be a pessimist, but the tides are likely to turn for Garcia — and that’s based on the reality of his stats, not just some sort of jaded White Sox wisdom rearing it’s ugly head. Because we’re working with such a small sample size, instead of only looking at Garcia’s numbers for an entire season, let’s take a look at the first 42 games he played with the White Sox in 2013, when he was acquired from the Tigers, and compare them to his career averages as well as his 2017 data.








2013 (Sox)







Career Avg.














As you can see, even in comparison to a sample size just twice as large as the one we have for 2017, things looked quite hopeful for Garcia this season, right? Finally! These first three weeks are leaving many folks wondering if Garcia has finally made a change that clicks and he is able to tap into his power at the plate.

Unfortunately, when you take a look at the fact that Garcia’s BABIP is nearly 100 points higher right now than it was in 2013 or his career average, that adds up to a lot of good luck on balls in play, which is clearly not sustainable or in anyway attributed to what is considered solid success.

But his career batting line looks decent, right? Well, take into consideration a month such a this one. These hot streaks are like peaks and valleys for Garcia, and tend to fill in a lot of the gaps for those dog days of summer when he is slugging under .300 and striking out at a nearly 30 percent clip — not the type of production you ever want to see from any regular starter, especially one with the potential of Garcia. We’ve seen the power Garcia has in flashes, but the inability to use a strong sense of baseball acumen at the plate to make use of that power is what has essentially been Garcia’s demise.

Garcia’s stats simply haven’t shown any drastic changes to his approach in 2017 that would lead one to believe this production is anything but a ton of luck. Garcia’s walk rate is still below league average, his strikeout rate is high for someone who isn’t producing—i.e. Kris Bryant when he isn’t striking out—and he’s still chasing too many pitches outside the zone. Garcia’s O-Swing% is at a whopping 39 percent right now — very in line with his career numbers.

The major difference that we’ve seen with Garcia this season is that he’s hitting balls to his pull side more. I know, sounds strange for a power-type hitter to be someone who hits mainly hit to the opposite field, but that’s one of the quirks that is keeping Garcia in the metaphorical box he’s in right now, unable to reach his full potential.

This season though, Garcia is actually pulling the ball more, and making quality contact on the ball when doing so. Take a look:




Pull Avg.

Oppo Avg.











Garcia isn’t sacrificing his power to the opposite field, but instead is hitting the balls he would normally hit to center to the pull side this season. Garcia is hitting the ball to center a career low 28.6 percent in 2017, while his opposite field percentage is virtually the same.

To say that Garcia has finally found his stride entering his fifth season on the South Side is a bit of a reach, as none of his approach has really changed drastically, but it seems Garcia can at least tap into more of his power by using the whole field—and that’s a good start.