Prior to the start of the 2021 season, expectation were very high for the Brewers outfield group.
Christian Yelich was coming off a disappointing 2020 season and there was a lot of hope that a ‘normal’ season would help him find his MVP form again. Lorenzo Cain was returning after opting out of the 2020 season and Avisail Garcia was also coming off a less than impressive first season with the Crew.
A late off-season signing of Jackie Bradley Jr created a log jam at the position and left most wondering how playing time would get split. Things got stickier when you had to consider that both Billy McKinney and Tyrone Taylor would both be thrown into the mix as well.
However, early in the season the depth of this group appeared to be paying dividends. Both Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain each had two separate stints on the IL due to injuries and missed substantial amounts of playing time. McKinney initially benefited the most from this, but by the end of May he was designated for assignment and traded to the Mets for a prospect.
This left the door open for Tyrone Taylor to get a good dose of playing time throughout the season. Jackie Bradley Jr also manned center field a vast majority of the time while Lorenzo Cain was out. By the time Yelich and Cain both got healthy, this left five main outfielders that the Brewers relied upon this season.
In this article, we will give a report card grade on each of these Brewers outfielders’ seasons.
1) Avisail Garcia
Following a disappointing 2020 season, the first month of the season was rough for Avisail Garcia as he slashed just .195/.280/.329/.609, but then he managed to turn it around. At times after that, Garcia showed the ability to be the anchor in the Brewers lineup. He was the team’s cleanup hitter for quite some time and was one of the league’s most productive outfielders in the month of May.
Throughout the remainder of the season, Garcia would go through many hot and cold stretches. One impressive stat line is that during the month of July he had a batting average of .354 and OPS of .930 while contributing 17 RBIs. To end the year though, he hit just .211 in September/October. He also was not playing consistently at that time due to injury/load management.
There were plenty of highs and lows for Garcia in 2021. Two clutch moments worth mentioning include a game tying single early in the year with two outs against the Dodgers that set up an eventual Travis Shaw walk off hit. He also had an incredible over the wall grab against the Reds to preserve a 2-0 lead. The biggest low was when he miss played a fly ball against the Giants. The mistake gave the Giants new life and they eventually won that game.
After all was said and done, Garcia set new career highs in home runs (29), RBI’s (86), and base on balls (38). A statistical season like 2021 could not have come at a better time for Garcia. He now has a $12MM mutual option for the 2022 season and gets a say in electing free agency or not.