Every year since 2012, we’ve spent some time after the season looking back at those that wore the Birds on the Bat. Whether it’s a bit player that got into just a couple of games or someone that played almost every day, we’ll look at their stats, their positives, their negatives, and grade them based on what we would have expected from them. The stat line is from their time in St. Louis, though splits and other numbers may include time with other teams, if applicable. Think of this as like the players packing up their locker and then seeing Mike Shildt before they head off for the winter. Once again, our great header work comes to us from cardinalsgifs, who continues to be a master.
Player: Greg Garcia
Season stats: 114 G, 208 PA, 15 R, 40 H, 6 2B, 3 HR, 15 RBI, 3 SB, 1 CS, 20 BB, 37 K, .221/.309/.304, 70 OPS+, 0.3 bWAR
Hero/Goat: Hero 1, Goat 2
Overall grade: C
Positives: Tied his career high in home runs with three….got a hit in what turned out to be his last at bat as a Cardinal in Busch Stadium….had a three-hit game, including two home runs, against the Reds back in April….had a much higher batting average (.229) against righties than lefties, even if his OPS against the different sides was about the same….all three home runs came away from Busch and led to a .745 OPS on the road….hit .257 in the first half of the season….had an .839 OPS in April….had 10 hits in June, his highest month….had a .726 OPS when playing second….went 2-7 with a double when hitting in the first spot in the lineup….hit .263 when he was ahead in the count….hit .288 when there were no outs in an inning….hit .275 in high-leverage situations….when facing a starter in his third time through the lineup, hit .364 with a 1.075 OPS….hit .267 against power pitchers….hit .304 in 28 plate appearances against the Brewers.
Negatives: Received 35 fewer plate appearances in the second half, which might have been in part due to the change in managers….hit just .171 during the second half, which may have also played a part….hit .167 in August….hit .192 coming off the bench….had a .381 OPS on the first pitch and a .364 OPS on a 1-0 count….hit .148 when there was one out in an inning….had a .196 average with runners in scoring position….hit .177 in low-leverage situations….had a .570 OPS in the first three innings….hit .194 against relief pitching….went 2-18 against the Cubs, though one of those hits was a home run.
Overview: The utility man life is a hard one. If the starters are going well, you probably aren’t going to play much. If you are playing a lot, the team’s probably not doing well. And once you start becoming expensive, your value drops considerably. Many were clamoring for the Cardinals to ditch Garcia throughout the year, but he still played his role very capably. He was able to play a number of positions, he could usually have a good at bat, and while you didn’t want him up with the game on the line, he could help you win a ball game. He’s basically Daniel Descalso 2.0, though Dirty D has probably had a different post-Cardinal career than Garcia is likely to have.
Outlook: Like Descalso was let go when he was arbitration eligible because they had Garcia, so to did Garcia get that treatment, being placed on waivers as the club looked to free up a 40-man roster spot while recognizing that Yairo Munoz likely can do as good (if not better) in the job for a lesser price. Thankfully for Garcia, one of the real good guys of the organization, he was claimed by the Padres, his hometown team and the team he grew up watching. If there was any place he’d want to play that wasn’t St. Louis, San Diego seems to have been it and listening to him on Dan McLaughlin’s podcast, he was genuinely excited to go out there to play. Cardinal fans only wish him the best in this new phase of his career.