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White Sox Fri May 22 2015

Avisail Garcia's Bat Emerges for White Sox

Chicago White SoxThe White Sox have experienced mixed success over the first 38 games of the season. Last night's 5-2 loss to Cleveland dropped them to 18-20, which is actually a little better than where they should be. The six-game winning streak was good, but otherwise both the offense and the starting pitching hasn't been there. The Sox have scored 128 runs, 29th in the league, and the starters have registered a 4.56 ERA, 25th in baseball. Their run differential is -34, 25th overall.

But while everyone else has been slow to get it going (including Jose Abreu, who's been very good but not otherworldly), Avisail Garcia has been excellent. The right fielder's .319 batting average cracks the top 10 in the American League. Garcia has been on fire since April 29. Since then, he's had a line of .372/ .410/ .538 with 10 multi-hit games.

A quick perusal of some of his advanced stats shows that nothing has been out of the ordinary for Garcia, who's in his third season with the Sox. His walk rate and strikeout rate are on par with past career marks, and he hasn't altered his hitting approach in any marked way. His plate vision and pitch F/X numbers from this year and years past are roughly the same.

One figure does stand out, though. Garcia has a Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP) of .404, a very robust number. It's much higher than any prolonged career average for Garcia. BABIP basically translates to how lucky hitters (and pitchers) have been; how fortunate that the balls they put in play have fallen for hits.

According to Fangraphs, the best hitters in the league will have a BABIP of around .350. Last year, Starling Marte led the league with a BABIP of .373 and two years ago Mike Trout had a .376. It would take a miracle for Garcia to finish north of .375, unless he's Ichiro circa-2004 in disguise.

Garcia is due for some regression. He won't hit .330 this year. However, this is his fourth year in the majors, and it could be his first full one (he missed most of last year with a torn labrum and a fracture in his left shoulder). This should be the soon-to-be-24-year-old Garcia's best season yet, just because of his maturity and experience.

It's a decent bet that Garcia will finish with a .300 or better batting average. He doesn't have exceptional power or speed, but he'll be a contributor to the Sox's offense, like he has been thus far.

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