Only one hitter improved his team’s chances of winning more often in 2022 than Adolis Garcia. That player will likely finish the month with an AL MVP award and a new $300 million contract.
You can disagree with me if you want, but I have stats on my side. According to Baseball Reference, Adolis Garcia had a WPA+ of 14.7 in 2022, second only to Aaron Judge’s WPA+ of 18.9. If you’re unfamiliar with WPA, it’s short for “win probability added.” WPA+ is a cumulative stat that reflects each time a player improves his team’s overall chance of winning the game.
Adolis Garcia was one of the best players in baseball in 2022 based on Win Probability Added
Say that Adolis Garcia hits a two-run homer in the first inning of a scoreless game. He likely improves the Rangers’ chances of winning by ten percent, and his WPA+ increases by one tenth of a point. In other words, Adolis Garcia added 1,470 percentage points to the Rangers’ chances of winning games in 2022, with 100 percent being the maximum odds they could have in any one game.
Does this mean that Adolis Garcia was a 14.7 WAR player in 2022, or the second-best hitter in all of baseball behind only Aaron Judge? Not necessarily – although Rangers fans would certainly love if that were true.
There are a few caveats. First of all, there’s a difference between WPA+ and overall WPA. A player’s overall WPA also factors in WPA-, which is any time that a player’s performance decreases their team’s chance of winning. Garcia had a WPA- of 12.1 in 2022, which was the tenth worst WPA- of any hitter in the league. Interestingly, Marcus Semien’s WPA- was the lowest among all hitters in the league at -13.2.
While a low WPA- isn’t necessarily a good thing, it’s also a reflection of how often the player was on the field. Baseball is a game of failure, and even the best players are going to come up short often. Each player in the bottom ten of batting WPA- had at least 550 plate appearances in 2022, and nobody in the bottom 50 had less than 500.
Even with Garcia’s WPA-, he still finished in the top 20 in the league in overall WPA at 2.6. For comparison, he finished with the same number as six-time All-Star Freddie Freeman and with a higher number than MVP finalist Nolan Arenado (2.4).
Once again, this doesn’t necessarily mean that Garcia had a better season than either of these players. Garcia’s WAR of 3.5 was tied with Matt Chapman and Yandy Diaz for 62nd among all position players. What it does tell us is that Garcia moved the needle for the Rangers in 2022 – especially in high leverage situations.
That’s what’s unique about WPA – it can give you a picture of how players are performing in higher leverage situations. A first-inning home run with the bases empty may only add a few percentage points to a team’s chances of winning. A late-inning home run with runners on base when your team is losing will drastically impact the overall win probability.
Garcia had nineteen at-bats in 2022 when he gave the Rangers the lead, including three during the seventh inning or later. His walk-off home run against the Nationals on June 25th increased the Rangers’ chances of winning by 37 percent and added .37 to his WPA+.
He also added .36 points on May 26th with a double down the left field line that scored Eli White and gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead. This came less than two weeks after he hit a three-run home run off Ryan Brasier in Boston that broke open a 1-1 tie and gave the Rangers a three run-lead. The Rangers’ win probably increased by 34 percentage points as a result of this hit.
Garcia had four other hits during the 2022 season that raised the Rangers’ win probability by at least twenty points and eleven hits that increased their win probability by ten points or more. Now that we’ve nerded out together for several minutes, what does all of this mean? If nothing else, it confirms what we already knew – Adolis Garcia is a key piece on this Rangers team going forward and one of the most clutch hitters in the league.
Adolis Garcia was clutch for the Texas Rangers in 2022
What’s even crazier to think about is that there is still room for improvement. Garcia is only now entering his prime and just completed his second full season in the big leagues. Not only did he improve many of his key counting stats in 2022 such as hits, doubles, average, RBI, and stolen bases, but he also raised his WPA+ by nearly two and a half points. He also decreased his WPA- by .8 despite the fact that he had 37 more plate appearances.
The question now is what 2023 could have in store for El Bombi. Could he earn another all-star appearance? What about a spot in the 30-30 club? The sky is the limit for a player who knows how to show up in the biggest moments and who is well-positioned to be a key contributor for a contending Rangers team in 2023.