The 2021 Major League Baseball season is coming to an end. While this year was a big let-down for the 58-99 Rangers, there has been at least one bright spot on the team, rookie outfielder Adolis Garcia.
The 28-year-old Cuban Garcia, who was traded to the Rangers before the 2020 season from the St. Louis Cardinals for cash, sports a below average slashline (.244/.287/.457), but has made up for it by being an elite outfielder. His 16 outfield assists are tied for the most in baseball, and Baseball Savant ranks him the fifth best outfielder by Outs Above Average (OAA) in baseball. He was also selected to the All-Star team, which is not typical for players in their first year.
His fantastic play in the outfield, combined with his big-time power (30 home runs – tying a Ranger rookie record) and solid speed on the bases (14 stolen bases), has made Garcia the frontrunner for the American League Rookie of the Year. According to Baseball Reference’s metrics, Garcia’s been worth an impressive 3.6 wins above a replacement level player (WAR).
Garcia’s competition includes two Tampa Bay Rays: 2020 postseason hero Randy Arozarena, to whom he has comparable numbers (3.8 WAR), and number one prospect Wander Franco who has been incredible but does not have the number of plate appearances that are usually necessary to lock up a first place Rookie of the Year vote. Other players that are prime to rank highly in the voting include Orioles first baseman Ryan Mountcastle and Blue Jays stud starting pitcher Alek Manoah. Manoah is the fastest Blue Jay to 100 strikeouts in history, but his 104 IP seem likely to keep him down in the voting.
Arozarena seems to be the real competition. He has been the better hitter all around, but he has ten less home runs than Garcia and has not had the same big moments such as when Garcia walked off the Astros with a three-run shot in the tenth inning this May. A first or second place finish seems inevitable for Garcia this year, and it may come down to the last five games of the season to determine which he gets, but so far, he seems to be the favorite.
By Jordan Miesse