2023 Fantasy Baseball Second Base Player Spotlight: Luis Garcia is a Sleeper Worth Drafting
Published: Mar 09, 2023
Updated: Mar 09, 2023
In deeper fantasy baseball leagues, Washington’s Luis Garcia is a name you want to keep on your radar as a late round dart throw. He likely carries multiple position eligibility (SS and 2B), and we saw a glimpse last year of what he could be at the major league level. He’s going after the top 300 picks on average, per NFBC ADP data, making him a popular fantasy baseball sleeper for the 2023 campaign. He’s not free of flaws, of course, but there’s enough juice in his game to warrant pushing him up a few spots in your preseason fantasy baseball rankings. Whether your league’s draft is coming soon, or you’re participating in a fantasy baseball mock draft for some practice, take a flier on Washington’s Luis Garcia in the later rounds.
In 93 games with the Nationals last year at the major league level, he slashed .275/.295/.408 with seven home runs, 23 doubles, 29 runs scored, 45 RBI, and three stolen bases. His miniscule 2.9 percent walk rate didn’t help those who play in OBP setups, and it’s worth noting that he was just 3-for-7 on stolen base attempts. Per Statcast’s sprint speed metric, Garcia isn’t overly fast, so while he may never contend for the stolen base crown, he should likely hang out in the 6-12 stolen base range on any given season.
When looking back at his numbers last season, Garcia displayed some pretty gnarly splits:
- .328 average at home versus a .226 average on the road
- .290 average against RHP versus a .235 average against LHP
- .294 average in the first half of the season versus a .259 average in the second half
He liked to hit at home last year, and as a left-handed hitter, we can’t be too surprised about those splits. However, it could make a strong case to Washington to start the 22-year-old in a platoon to begin the season. Even if that were to happen, he’d be on the strong side of the platoon, but given the state of affairs in the Washington clubhouse, they should let him play every day from the start of the season. However, let’s dive into the third bullet point above. Garcia is a free swinger, and he punished fastballs last year, to the tune of a .356 batting average and .421 wOBA. However, on secondary offerings, he was far less successful, and it seems like pitchers may have picked up on it a bit.
From what I see above, after the month of August, where Garcia saw the most fastballs in a month in 2022, the switch occurred. Also, conveniently, Garcia hit .327 with an .833 OPS and 13 wRC+ that month, all of which were bests last year. After that excellent month, fastballs were a bit less frequent for Garcia, and in the final month of the year, his strikeout rate jumped to 26.6 percent, and he hit just .241 with a .653 OPS and 79 wRC+. I wouldn’t necessarily be worried about the strikeouts over the final month of the season, as Garcia has never had a major strikeout problem throughout his time in the minors, and he’s regularly been heralded as a guy with excellent bat control and feel of the batter’s box. However, don’t be surprised if he sees a lot of “junk” to begin the year, forcing Garcia to make an adjustment.
Now, let’s talk about when the bat does meet the ball. Simply put, let’s just take a high level overview of the good and the bad from his offensive profile:
92nd percentile max exit velocity
87.3 average exit velocity
And now the bad…
Miniscule walk rate (3.3 career BB%)
.218 average against non-fastballs
Garcia is never going to be a massive power guy, but his 92nd percentile max exit velocity shows that there is some impressive pop in that frame of his, even if we only see it every so often. However, a career 55.8 percent ground ball rate and 3.4 degree launch angle doesn’t exactly lend itself to regular power output. His 51.43 AB/HR mark last year comes out to 11-12 homers over 600 at-bats, and that’s a safe projection for Garcia here in 2023. I don’t expect him to start launching balls left and right, and if he does, his batting average would take a bit of a hit. So, maybe a few more fly balls here and there to not trade too many points off his average in favor of a couple extra round trippers. He’s a free swinger at heart, so I don’t expect much to change there, but that would be the biggest shift he could make to lend some serious results, as a bit more selective approach could lead to more walks, a higher OBP, etc. However, it almost feels like telling Garcia not to be aggressive at the dish is like telling a lion to not be a lion.
Our preseason projections here at Fantasy Alarm have Garcia slashing .267/.308/.426 with 44 runs scored, 44 RBI, nine home runs, and two stolen bases over 338 at-bats. Even on the larger side of a platoon, I expect a solid season from Garcia, and well worth the investment outside of the top 300 players. The multi-positional eligibility will be a nice benefit for fantasy baseball managers, and there’s optimism with his offensive profile for continued growth at the game’s highest level. Those in leagues that value OBP instead of batting average will likely be less inclined to select Garcia in the later rounds, but as the draft gets into the later stages, a .270 average with 10+ home runs and 5+ stolen bases will play.
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