Stat line: 65 PAs, .286/.308/.492, .800 OPS, 4 HR, 1 2B, 9 RBI
In a season where bright spots were about as visible as stars during an LA night, and in a September where silver linings were as prevalent as bigfoot, Aramís García emerged, sprouting from the decaying foliage of the franchise’s worst month.
On a team littered with middling farm talent, Septembers are, sadly, not supposed to bring the glittering shine of prospect sheen. The annual migration of the rookies signals a chance for veterans to rest, for the future 24th and 25th roster spots to be debated ad nauseam, and for precious families to be filmed as their son, brother, friend, and partner actualizes his dream for the first time, as the cowhide-laced ball dribbles past a diving shortstop for career hit number one.
García, apparently, missed the memo. When his first two MLB hits came in the same inning of his debut - first, a towering home run to lead things off, and, a pair of outs later, an RBI single - it appeared to be the feel-good story we needed to help us trudge through the muddy waters of a dismal baseball month. But then he kept doing it. He kept getting hits, and putting together good at-bats. He entered in 19 games, including pinch-hit appearances, and he hit safely in 13 of those. Sure, he struck out like he was Michael Jordan in Space Jam, but, on the whole, his bat was a success. Of the players on the team with at least 10 at-bats, he was the leader in OPS. That’s a terrifically depressing stat if you take the time to let it sink in, so let’s not dwell on this.
He impressed with the glove, and earned rave reviews from his nightly battery mates. He called games well, showed poise, and did a swell job framing, whether you choose to calculate that or eyeball it.
García was, quite simply, good. Good when little else was. Good when we had little reason to expect such value.
Role on the 2018 team
García didn’t earn his MLB promotion until the Giants were, for all intents and purposes, eliminated. His role as an August 31 call-up was to be a premature September call-up: to give the team depth as Buster Posey underwent surgery, to give Nick Hundley days off, and to give the front office - both the remaining pieces and the incoming ones - glimpses of what he may be able to offer down the line.
With injuries elsewhere, García’s role shifted a little, and he ended up starting more games at first base than at catcher, where he more than held his own.
His role, ultimately, can be reduced to this: to provide excitement and optimism in a five-win month, while giving fans a sliver of justification for choosing to turn on the game. And in that regard, he succeeded.
Role on the 2019 team
If García’s 2018 performance offered promise for the future, it was, at times, offset by what felt like a harsh reality. The Giants were enamored with Nick Hundley, who, for whatever inexplicable reason, appears compelled to stand by the stank of the team. It seemed all but assured that a reunion was in the works, with García forced to hitchhike back to Sacramento, as the spring flowers bloom.
But then Bobby Evans was fired, and Brian Sabean demoted, and before these decisions are made, there will be new sheriffs in town. Presumably sheriffs who understand that a team with a combined 137 wins over the last two years should not be using their resources on veteran backups when prospects wait in the wings. Or perhaps sheriffs who understand that pitch framing is as important as hitting ability.
Or, you know, sheriffs who realize that Hundley isn’t a particularly good hitter.
With those sheriffs in town, García’s role in 2019 should be the primary backup catcher, from opening day until the next set of rookies roll in.
But, as has been the case with this team for a while, “should” remains the operative term.