Avisail Garcia was named to the American League All-Star team Monday, bringing to reality something that never would’ve seemed possible just a few months ago.
For most of the first half of the season, we’ve wondered aloud whether Garcia’s hot start is more mirage or the realization of talent many have long believed he’s had. This is an ongoing and legitimate conversation as the White Sox begin their second half of the season, but there’s no denying that the honor is deserved.
Garcia’s tenure with the White Sox has been tumultuous to say the least. He came over as a perhaps overhyped prospect from the Detroit Tigers during the White Sox last
rebuild retooling back in 2013. Expectations were mixed, but during the 3 1/2 years he spent in Chicago entering this season, he never lived up to even the most tempered of those. He was a replacement level player, an outfielder who couldn’t field or a designated hitter who couldn’t do the one thing DH’s kind of need to do — hit.
Garcia became almost the poster child for everything wrong with the White Sox over the last three years. How could a team so hellbent on competing keep running someone with Garcia’s flaws out there day after day? These were legitimate gripes, but more with the front office and coaching staff than with Garcia himself.
He’s always seemed like a hard worker, has never bitched publicly about criticism or playing time or when he’d get benched in favor of guys like J.B. Shuck, Adam LaRoche, or Justin Morneau. He never dogs it on the base paths and tries is damnedest in the outfield, as limited as he may be.
So the ire has always maybe been misplaced. But seriously, how can you not root for this guy?
“I think a lot of people believe in me, like myself,” Garcia said after learning the news in a team meeting Sunday. “I appreciate that. I thank God for those people that believe in [me]. I know who I am, what kind of person I am. I know what kind of player I am. I have to keep working and try to get better every day, every year, and try to improve.”
“I can’t wait. When they hang the All-Star shirt in your locker, I can’t wait for that,” Garcia said. “It’s exciting.”
He’s still a lackluster outfielder, of course, but even after the 1-for-23 funk he’s found himself in before sitting the last four games, he’s hitting .318/.362/.512 with a 134 wRC+ and 11 home runs — two fewer than his career high.
Maybe this is as high as it will get for Garcia. Maybe by season’s end he’ll have plummeted back down to pre-2017 depths. It’s tough to say right now. But from now until the Internet explodes, the last column of his Baseball Reference page will have an “AS” under “Awards” for the 2017 season. And it’s well deserved.
Lead Photo Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports