The Cardinals have gotten a huge boost from Greg Garcia in his eleven games, and even though he won’t continue at this pace, he should still provide a lot of value the rest of the way.
Save for Aledmys Diaz, the Cardinals had been disappointed with the play they had received from their middle infielders this season. Kolten Wong, Jedd Gyorko, and Ruben Tejada had not been playing as well as the team had hoped. With Tejada out the door, we’ll be seeing a lot more of Greg Garcia, and he has provided some great play so far.
Let’s start with the basic numbers: Garcia has hit .647/.760/1.118 with a pair of homers and doubles in just 17 at-bats. He can add to those numbers seven walks and just three strikeouts. However, he won’t continue at that pace or anything close to it. By looking at his numbers in the high minors, we can get a better idea of what to expect.
One of Garcia’s best attributes is his plate discipline. That is extremely valuable for a backup player because it guarantees that he can find a way to get on base and help at the plate (something not all backups do). He posted well above average walk and strikeout rates in 94 games at AAA last season.
He posted good numbers in other years, too, but it is most encouraging to see him do that in the highest level of the minors. In fact, that’s another thing that’s noticeable with Garcia: his numbers did not really go down as he rose through the Cardinals farm system. His power numbers actually increased while his average only dropped a little bit as he moved to higher levels.
Strange how Carpenter's paternity leave has turned into such a big thing for Greg Garcia. Talk about taking advantage of an opportunity.
— Wade Forrester (@CardinalHistory) May 29, 2016
Speaking of his power, there is some bad news involved. Despite that power increase, he still only managed to belt 27 home runs in 2177 minor league at-bats. He has managed to get to ten and eight homers in two separate years, so I think it’s fair to say that Garcia would max out around ten home runs. For a backup, that’s not bad, but don’t expect his four extra-base hits in seventeen at-bats to continue.
At the plate, Garcia shouldn’t really “wow” anyone, even though he has so far. He is a low power guy with a high contact rate and a high walk rate. In other words, you should expect a decent average and an even better on-base percentage without too many extra base hits. That is more than what the average backup can give, and is also platoon worthy in a vacuum.
In the field, Garcia has been below average but not quite a liability. He has had some years where he has managed to save runs and others where he has given up runs, but we still don’t have much data to go on. The stats that rate him on a per 150 games basis give him subpar marks, but he’s done fine in Defensive Runs Saved. It’s hard to reconcile this difference, but it doesn’t seem like he will hurt the team too much out there.
The final aspect of Garcia’s game is his baserunning. Baserunning doesn’t have as big an impact on the game as hitting or fielding, but it does matter. Garcia has graded positively in baserunning during each of his short stints in the majors (including the one he is currently in). So far he has been more than .6 runs above average in 126 plate appearances for the Cardinals (over his career). While that sounds incredibly small, if we project that to a full season then it would be enough to make up for how much below average Kolten Wong has been so far this year.
It’s been fun to watch Garcia so far, but he will come back down to Earth soon. When that happens, you can still expect a high on-base guy who will be smart on the basepaths, and will hurt just a little bit in the field.
Photo captured by Brad Mills – USA TODAY Sports