After a rough 2020 season on offense, a number of Brewers players put up performances in spring training that made it seem like things would turn around in 2021. One of those players was outfielder Avisail Garcia.
Signed prior to 2020, Garcia had a mostly underwhelming debut for Milwaukee. In 53 games last year, he wound up hitting .238 with a .659 OPS and just two homers. Becoming the team’s primary center fielder after the surprise opt out of Lorenzo Cain may have played a part, but it was disappointing to fans nonetheless.
Garcia looked to put that in the past, though, and early reports were that he showed up to spring training in the best shape of his life. His following Cactus League results ended up supporting that theory (.313 average, .930 OPS, four homers in 19 games).
After slashing .269/.316/.481 with three homers through his first 13 games of 2021, it seemed as though he was prepared to carry his spring performance through to this season. And then the slump hit.
Garcia would go 2 for his next 30 to finish out the month of April with 16 strikeouts in 10 games. His batting average would plummet all the way to .195 and his OPS would drop to .609. It put the team’s outfield, which was already short bodies, in a tight spot.
When the calendar flipped to May, though, Avisail Garcia morphed into the Brewers’ best hitter.
It all started with 2 for 4 game in a dramatic 6-5 victory in extra innings at home over the Dodgers. Garcia had two singles that day, one of them tying the game in the bottom of the 11th before Travis Shaw walked it off with a run-scoring single of is own.
Garcia kept things rolling from there to the tune of a .328 batting average and a .971 OPS through May 23rd. His 0.7 fWAR and 151 wRC+ so far in May (going into Sunday’s game) leads all regular Brewer hitters and he’s now raised his overall slash line to .252/.329/.434 on the season.
With other hitters either slumping or injured, Garcia has become one of the team’s top run producers in 2021. His seven home runs are currently tops on the team, his 24 RBIs trail only Shaw’s 25, and he also happens to lead the team with four stolen bases, three more than the lone steal he had in all of 2020.
He has been doing this all by, not surprisingly, hitting the ball hard. Not only do his barrel rate (11.1%), hard hit rate (50.5%) and average exit velocity (91.5 mph) all rank in the top third or the league, the latter two marks would represent career highs.
Garcia’s offensive performance has been much needed in the outfield as well. Christian Yelich is still adjusting to his return from injury, though he slugged his first homer of the year on Sunday. Cain and Jackie Bradley Jr., meanwhile, are slashing .210/.312/.358 and .161/.229/.294, respectively.
If the Brewers want to turn things around offensively, they’ll need certain players to lead the way. Right now, Garcia looks poised to do exactly that.