3 KC Royals that put up eye-catching numbers this spring

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Maikel Garcia's 18.9% walk rate

Most of Garcia's perceived value in 2023 came from his defense at third base. He made a seamless transition from shortstop in the minors to the hot corner in the majors, leading all American League third basemen with 13 Outs Above Average. But his bat will determine his MLB ceiling. He has the tools to be a valuable leadoff hitter, but his bat waned as the season went along.

Every leadoff hitter's goal is to reach base and help the lineup's second or third batters maximize their run creation. It doesn't matter if it is a hit or a walk; when there are no other runners on base, a single is worth the same as a walk. Garcia had no problem knocking in singles, but left something to be desired in drawing walks.

In 2023, his 7.8% walk rate in the leadoff spot ranked 21st among hitters with 250 plate appearances. That doesn't sound terrible, but it still makes him a below-average leadoff man in that facet. So, imagine my surprise when Garcia started drawing walks at an insane rate in the Venezuela Winter League. He played in 48 games with Tiburones de La Guaira, walking 39 times and striking out 11 times. Even if he carried over a sliver of the .489 OBP he posted there, that would be a great development.

Well, Garcia brought that same plate approach to Arizona this spring. He struck out as often as he walked, posting an 18.9% rate. Plus, his .432 OBP is a big improvement over his .323 mark last season. The competition jumps from spring to Opening Day, but Garcia is clearly more prepared this season. If he continues walking at an 11%+ rate, that raises his offensive ceiling immensely.