Leury García made his White Sox debut by pinch-hitting for Avisaíl García on Aug. 23, 2013. Every other player occupying every other spot in the White Sox lineup is out of baseball, at least stateside. That qualifier is necessary because Dayan Viciedo is still Big in Japan.
He’s the longest-tenured White Sox by about half a year, with José Abreu joining the fray the following year. He’s a strange candidate to hold that title, as he’s never posted an above-average season at any point over his MLB career. He pieced together an end-around by bouncing between Charlotte and Chicago for a few years, which slowed his accrual of service time. Smash-cut to the present day, where García is in the back half of a two-year extension that capped his last arb-year’s earnings. Over the course of that time, he expanded his defensive repertoire to every position besides first base and catcher (Abreu’s venerability means there’s never been a need for García at the former position).
García inadvertently and intentionally learned from Yolmer Sánchez’s experience. Sánchez stuck quicker, which put him in Super Two territory. Then he went year-to-year in arbitration and couldn’t keep up with his salary trajectory, leading the White Sox to non-tender him. He’s bounced around four organizations since, spending his age-29 year with the Triple-A Gwinnett Braves, even though he’s a better bet to hold down one position for a team than García. In fact, he might’ve been better served professionally by playing some outfield, rather than holding down third base one year and second base the next. He still has yet to surface in a major-league game for a team besides the White Sox.
García has always been an OK Plan B and an excellent Plan C, which is why he’s been able to hang around for so long. But now that he’s Plan A at second base, he risks running headlong into the other weird thing about his career — his regular and symmetrical orbit around 1 WAR.
Since he discovered his modern form, García has basically rounded to 1-WAR status regardless of where or how much he’s played. In 2019, he accumulated 1 WAR during the first half by hitting .293/.327/.395 as a competent everyday center fielder … then he hit .262/.288/.357 and contributed only 0.2 WAR despite 282 plate appearances. In 2020, he homered from both sides of the plate in his second game of the season and slugged .441 while filling in for Tim Anderson at shortstop before a thumb injury ended his regular-season after 16 games.
Just as García is unusually enduring, this personal history makes García unusually fascinating at this moment. Just like 2019, García was pressed into regular duty, this time at second base after Nick Madrigal underwent season-ending surgery on his hamstring. Just like 2019, García overcame an abysmal start to attain “cromulent regular” status by the end of the first half, reaching .263/.330/.369, good for 1.2 WAR.
And just like 2019, he’s off to a rocky start to his second half here in 2021. He’s 1-for-18 at the plate, although he’s reached on three walks, two HBPs and one error. He committed a pair of misplays at second base in the first game of the Houston series. He was thrown out at second base on an ill-advised attempt to tag up in the last game of the Houston series.
I’m not saying that the Baseball Gods have subjugated García to a Sisyphean struggle beyond 1 WAR no matter how he tries to cheat it, but this is exactly what it would look like if he were. Should this season play out like the others, then the White Sox are staring at replacement-level second basemen for the remainder of the 2021 calendar.
That might be fine. The White Sox have a nine-game lead, which gives Eloy Jiménez, Luis Robert and Yasmani Grandal plenty of runway for liftoff whenever they return from their injuries, assuming no major setbacks. If they can plug the White Sox’s issues at DH, outfield and catcher well enough, then the Sox can live with glove-first guys at the pivot and the bottom of the order, whether it’s García or Danny Mendick.
One could also argue that addressing the most pressing position makes the White Sox less reliant on players who suffered significant injuries. Adam Frazier is the most obvious fit, but he’s that guy for a lot of teams. I wonder if Rick Hahn has the chutzpah to call Cleveland about Cesar Hernandez, whose expiring contract doesn’t do much to help a team that is now just one game over .500 with a 3 percent shot of making the postseason.
Until the White Sox have somebody better at second, this is something to watch. Finding something to monitor for players who aren’t appointment viewing is one skill we’ve all learned during the rebuild out of necessity, when the White Sox sold at the deadline instead of buying. Now that the Sox are justified in adding, it’d be kinda cool if Hahn did what he could to give this muscle the rest of the year off.
I’ve always liked and defended Leury with the caveat that I don’t want to see a lot of him. Great in a pinch, bad if I have to watch him play regularly.
The very definition of a utility player. A guy that has value, but isn’t a major league starter.
I give the guy a lot of credit for rolling out and playing whatever position he asked play with a smile on his face. Tim, Leury, and Billy play the game with a lot of joy.
Nick Madrigal would bump his head on Leury’s ceiling.
The fact the Guardians-to-be are in the division makes it very unlikely to happen but César Hernández is an inspired suggestion to fill the 2b hole that I hadn’t thought of.
Why is it unlikely? Dude is hitting .224 and his contract ends at the end of the year. It’s not like they are trading us Jose Ramirez and will have to see him for years to come
Leury’s sac fly tootblan was ill-advised, but its egregiousness was tempered by the team’s subsequent offensive explosion.
Has a top ten list of all time Sox tootblans been considered? I guess it would begin and end with Dybber. Can’t leave Lollar in ‘59 off. De Aza would merit a participation trophy at the least.
Let’s face it. It’s Eduardo Escobar time. Escobar basically seems like Garcia if you bumped the ceiling up to 3 WAR. One thing I like about Escobar is he can play shortstop if he has to. Between Escobar and Garcia, the Sox could probably send Mendick back down to AAA and keep one of Burger or Sheets.
It doesn’t help keeping an additional player. Escobar would just replace Mendick on the roster. It would still be great to add Escobar, but it doesn’t help keep Burger or Sheets on the roster.
I think it does before Robert comes back and there is a roster crunch. You need to keep a utility infielder on the bench as a backup. Escobar would replace Mendick but Garcia slides back into that super sub role.
Starters: Collins, Abreu, Escobar, Anderson, Moncada, Vaughn, Engel, Goodwin, Jimenez
Bench: Zavala, Garcia, Hamilton, one of Sheets/Burger/Lamb
Frazier would do the same, but if the Sox traded for an outfielder they would have to keep Mendick on the bench as a backup infielder since Garcia would still be the starting second baseman. I guess I could have said let’s face it the Sox need a starting second baseman. Escobar or Frazier would do. I prefer Escobar since the prospect cost is lower.
Right, but that’s the same thing if they don’t trade for a 2B. They need Mendick, because they need at least one extra player that can play the middle infield. Right now it’s Leury starting and Mendick the backup. If they acquire a new 2B, it’s the new 2B starting, and Leury the backup. The rest of the roster doesn’t change. You will still have the starters you listed (with Garcia instead of Escobar), the backup catcher, the backup middle infielder (Mendick instead), and two of: Hamilton/Burger/Sheets/Lamb before Robert, and then only one of those 4 after Robert comes back. The new 2B just replaces Mendick, roster-wise (which is good), and replaces Leury as a starter and lets him be a backup (which is also good). So, I’m not arguing over getting a better starting 2B – they really should. I’m just pointing out that it has no effect on keeping more of those useful guys in the Hamilton/Sheets/Burger/Lamb pile.
Yes, Moncada missed the plate and should have been out. However, why did they get to initiate a review at least a couple of minutes after the play concluded? They had a damn mound visit in between. Did the umps consider the appeal play a new play that reset the review clock? That’s the only thing I can think of, but if so, that’s quite dumb. In that case, all teams could just appeal each close play to get infinite time to review.
Right, and it looked like the ump called him safe. Really strange series behind the plate.
García playing regularly and in 2nd base robs his super utlity skill which is pretty much the only skill he offers. The only way to regain it is by playing Mendick but that brings another problem: playing Mendick and García together. Hahn should try to get a solid 2B to free García to do what he does better.
Kind of my point and the point of the article actually. I would say second base should be priority number 1 at the deadline followed by bullpen help. Escobar should not cost a ton of prospect capital either. I think Escobar could be had for one of Thompson/Dalquist and maybe a lower level prospect if necessary. Sheets or Burger could bring back a high value bullpen arm if the Sox want to go that route or they could work around the edges trading lower value prospects for veteran bullpen depth.
I’m not surprised there is no game recap post yet. I went on a road trip to see the Sox play the then AL-rival Brewers in July of 1982 with my brother and a friend of ours. We saw the Sox swept in a 4-game series and were all pretty down afterward. After that, I didn’t use the web until 1991.
Has Leury ever served as a position plyer pitching?