It’s can be easy to simply focus on the laughably bad score of the Rangers’ 18-3 win over the Oakland Athletics on Saturday. It can also be tempting to hone in on the morale of the A’s fanbase, which is at an all-time low after news broke about the A’s ownership group coming to an agreement to build a stadium in Las Vegas.
The A’s misfortunes, in more ways than just win-loss record, shouldn’t be ignored. Nonetheless, that shouldn’t take away from the performance Adolis García showcased on Saturday, and the start he’s had to the 2023 season.
García made absolute mincemeat of starter Shintaro Fujinami and the A’s pitching staff, as he hit three home runs in his first four at-bats (the other at-bat he was hit by a pitch). In addition to hitting a home run off of Fujinami, García also blasted two off of Oakland reliever Adrián Martínez.
And it’s not just that García hit three home runs in his first four at-bats. But rather, it is HOW he hit those home runs.
His first home run of the day off of Fujinami had an exit velocity of 109.1 MPH. His second home run of the game had an exit velocity of 108.1 MPH. He also added two doubles to his five-hit line on Saturday, and his first double had an exit velocity of 107.3 MPH.
When García connects with the ball, he absolutely demolishes it.
Consistent hard contact also was a trend for García in 2022. He ranked in the 92nd percentile in average exit velocity on batted balls last season, according to Savant. This year, he ranks in the 84th percentile in average exit velocity, and 79th percentile in hard-hit rate. Once again, the 30-year-old outfielder is demonstrating that his raw power tool set is one of the most impressive in the game today.
Unfortunately, it’s been the strikeouts and whiffs that have kept him from being a bigger star.
García sports a career strikeout rate of 29.4% and a career whiff rate of 33.4%. Last season, his strikeout rate was 27.9% and his whiff rate was 33.5%. Struggling in those categories was the key reason why he only hit .250 last year and had an OBP of .300, both pretty paltry marks.
After his five-hit, eight-RBI game today, García did raise his average from .230 to .260, which is a lot more tolerable for fantasy managers who roster García in their respective leagues. In addition, García’s whiff rate is down to 25.9% and his K rate is also down considerably at 22.8%.
Perhaps this is a sign that Garcia is turning it around, and could perhaps be a more serious five-category threat in fantasy leagues in 2023? That isn’t bad for a guy who ranked 56 in consensus ADP this past draft season, according to Fantasy Pros.
The power and speed will always be there for García in 2023. But if he can make himself a little more respectable in batting average and can also cut down on the whiffs at the plate?
Well, García could get some dark horse MVP buzz this season, especially if the Rangers continue to dominate the AL West as they’ve done through the first 20 games this year.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Saturday
James Outman (LAD): 4-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI.
The Dodgers have struggled to generate consistent offense this year, which is a big reason why they sit behind the Diamondbacks in the NL West standings as of Saturday. However, don’t blame Outman, who’s hitting .314 with a 1.121 OPS for the season. Against the Cubs, Outman went off, as he not only garnered four hits and 4 RBI but also hit two home runs in the Dodgers’ 9-4 win at Wrigley Field. Miguel Vargas was the Dodgers rookie who got all the hype this offseason, but Outman may end up producing a stronger season at the plate.
Nick Castellanos (PHI): 3-4, 2B, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
After a down season in which he only hit 13 home runs and posted an OPS of .694 in 2022, Castellanos has come out scorching to begin the 2023 season. He is currently hitting .310 with an OPS of .883, and he hit his first two home runs of the year against the Rockies in Philadelphia’s 4-3 win. He’s only producing a barrel rate of 7.5% so far this year, but perhaps this two-homer game can get Castellanos going on the power end of things.
Randy Arozarena (TB): 3-5, HR, R, 4 RBI.
The big moment is coming routinely for Arozarena and this Rays team. Arozarena not only had three home runs, including his fifth home run of the year, but also drove in the game-winning run in the bottom of the 10th. For the season, the 28-year-old outfielder has legitimately looked like an MVP candidate, as he is hitting .350 with a .979 OPS in 89 plate appearances. Safe to say, Arozarena is on his way to being a “legitimate” star in 2023 rather than a “complicated” one.
Christian Walker (ARI): 2-3, HR, R, 3 RBI, SB.
The Diamondbacks lost 5-3 to the Padres which shrunk their division lead by a game. However, Walker did all he could, as he drove in all three Arizona runs. It hasn’t been a great start for Walker, as he only has three home runs and is posting an OPS of .694 in 87 plate appearances this season. Walker hit 36 home runs last year and posted a .804 OPS in 2022, so hopefully today is a sign that Walker is starting to get back on track.
Bryan De La Cruz (MIA): 2-3, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI, BB.
De La Cruz has been one of the biggest bright spots for a surprising Marlins team that is currently 12-9 after sweeping a Saturday doubleheader against the Guardians. De La Cruz particularly stood out in the first game, as he collected two hits and a hit home run, his second of the year. For the season, he is hitting .339 with a .882 OPS in 68 plate appearances. Health will be a factor with De La Cruz (which could also be said for Marlins slugger Jorge Soler). As for now though, it appears that he could be due for a major breakout for the Marlins in 2023.
Matt Duffy (KC): 3-4, 2 2B, 3 R, RBI, BB.
The Royals snapped a seven-game losing streak, beating the Angels in a wild 11-8 game that had multiple lead changes in the final innings. The 32-year-old journeyman infielder had a standout performance, as he recorded two doubles and scored three of the Royals’ 11 runs. Duffy hasn’t gotten a lot of consistent playing time in Kansas City so far, despite hitting .394 with a .957 OPS in 34 plate appearances. That will probably change soon, especially with the Royals sitting at 5-16 for the year.
Wilmer Flores (SF): 1-3, HR, 2 R, RBI, BB.
Flores had a down season in 2022, as he only hit .229 with a .710 OPS. In 2023, he has off to a solid start, as he is hitting .295 with a .830 OPS, both major improvements in those categories from a season ago. His performance on Saturday was classic “San Francisco” Flores: only one hit, but it was a clutch solo home run that essentially put the game out of reach for the Mets. Eligible at 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, and only rostered in 19% of Yahoo leagues and 21% of ESPN leagues, Flores should be a nice waiver/FAAB target for teams needing help at those positions.
Fernando Tatis Jr. (SD): 1-3, HR, 2 R, RBI, BB.
After going 1-for-9 in his first 10 plate appearances this season, Tatis came through in a big way in his third game of the season for the Padres. He hit his first home run of the year, which happened to be his first home run since September 30th of 2021. In addition, he scored two runs and drew his first walk of the season as well. There could be some rust for Tatis initially as he didn’t play for all of 2022 and the first few weeks of 2023 due to a combo of injury and a PED suspension. That said, once he gets back to speed, expect Tatis to be one of the most valuable hitters in fantasy once again.
Cristian Pache (PHI): 2-3, HR, R, 2 RBI.
After failing to keep a spot in Atlanta and Oakland, former heralded prospect Pache is getting a chance again at the Major League level, this time in Philadelphia. In 21 plate appearances, Pache is hitting .300 with a .850 OPS, which is a pretty sterling start for a guy who’s struggled to hit at the Major League level so far in his career. Against the Rockies, Pache hit his first home run of the year. Pache’s bomb went 421 feet, the furthest of any ball hit between the two teams on Saturday. Could Pache succeed in his new surroundings in Philadelphia? He seems to only have a platoon role for now, especially with Castellanos, Brandon Marsh, and Jake Cave also on the roster. But at 10-12 for the year, the Phillies need hitters who can help turn things around for the defending NL Champs. If Pache continues to hit, expect him to be more of a regular in the Phillies lineup.
Photo by John Bunch/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)