Ah yes, the grand ol’ debate. Which 30-year-old, below-average, switch-hitting, utility infielder do we want to play 2nd base on Game 1 of the ALDS: Cesar Hernandez or Leury Garcia? My thoughts on this have changed weekly as neither seems to be a great option throughout the season.
Let’s put the names aside and just blindly look at the numbers. (Side Note: I am under the impression that RF will consist of a Gavin Sheets/Adam Engel platoon and Romy Gonzalez will not be on the playoff roster, so Romy at 2nd base and Garcia in RF is not an option, in my opinion).
.230/.306/.385, .301 wOBA, 89 wRC+, 0 OAA (Outs above Average at 2nd Base this season)
.265/.335/.371, .311 wOBA, 97 wRC+, -2 OAA (Outs above Average at 2nd base this season)
Still can’t pick? Yeah me neither. Both aren’t great options. Even with the LHP v RHP splits neither hits one hits either pitcher better so we can’t have a platoon at 2nd base. But hey! At least they’re both in the 80th percentile for sprint speed!
Playoffs are all about riding the hot bat though, right? Let’s instead look at September baseball only.
Oh. This is interesting. This is very interesting. There seems to be a much larger divide in the month of September. The question answers itself. The choice is Player B. You can’t really look away from those numbers. If you haven’t guessed by now, Cesar Hernandez is Player A and Leury Garcia is Player B.
Leury Garcia has been hitting the laces off the ball as of recently, and I think he has earned the 2nd base spot. Cesar Hernandez has been the starting 2nd basement since being traded to the White Sox at the deadline but he has been pretty disappointing since putting on the pinstripes. Leury Garcia has been pretty mediocre this season but has heated it up in the month of September and that can’t be overlooked going into the playoffs.
Obviously, Leury’s hot month isn’t going to keep up as you can see with the .373 BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play). If you’re not familiar with BABIP, it is basically a stat to measure how often balls in play fall for hits. A .300 BABIP is average and eventually, with enough at-bats, the number will creep back down to .300. So, Leury will, most likely, slow down in the near future. But, even when Leury Garcia slows down, I think his consistent mediocrity is a better addition to the lineup, especially when he is only as high as the 8/9 spot.
The only thing that would change that is if Cesar Hernandez got hot in the playoffs. Cesar, like many other White Sox players, made his playoff debut in 2020. He slashed a line of .375/.444/.500 in the two-game series. Small sample sizes, obviously, but hey, it’s something to think about.
At the end of the day, things can be way different in two weeks and if Cesar picks it up come playoff time, I would not mind him batting in the 9th spot. Until then, I want Leury Garcia at 2nd base.
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