Hear me out on this.
I love Maikel Garcia. He has exceeded every expectation since making his MLB debut. He did what few Royals prospects do in making themselves undeniable, forcing his promotion by being so good. But the rookie needs to improve if he wants to be a concrete running mate alongside shortstop Bobby Witt Jr.
Most of my hesitancy lies in his second-half performance. So, let's look at his pre-All-Star numbers to set the bar. Garcia hit the ground running defensively, establishing himself as one of the best gloves at third base. His 11 outs above average rank in MLB's top 10 while it also leads third basemen. His defense was never a concern as a prospect, but the bat was. Garcia laid those concerns to rest to start the season, landing as a perfectly average hitter with a .731 OPS and 100 wRC+. The strikeout and walk ratio was acceptable, so what was the underlying concern?
The lack of power. Like a massive black hole of it.
Garcia's .104 ISO was not the worst in MLB, but pretty bad among starting-level players. It ranks as the 11th-worst, slightly below former Royals All-Star White Merrifield. Granted, getting on base is very important but some players can only get so far with singles. His .365 BABIP is above league average and also points to Garcia getting some lucky breaks.
Garcia has not gotten better in the season's second half. His 80 wRC+ is last among all Royals with 50 plate appearances in that span. His ISO has even regressed further to .087, ranking in the MLB's bottom 10. This all adds up to Garcia being a negative at the plate since the All-Star break according to FanGraphs.
It is worrisome. Fans have seen a slap-hitting defensive savant on the Royals this year have one good year, then nothing more. Is Garcia just another Nicky Lopez? I hope not, but some of the production is similar. Garcia needs to start adding some extra-base hits to his arsenal, or the similarities between him and the current Atlanta Braves utilityman grow.