Adolis Garcia faced long odds in getting to the majors and even longer odds in winning the ALCS MVP. There he was center-stage after Texas beat Houston 11-4 to win the AL Pennant. There is just something inside of Garcia that gives him the swagger and belief in himself that helped him through the days and years he toiled in the minor leagues. Maybe it is just coincidence that he started playing professionally in Cuba in 2011. He started at 18 playing in the Cuban National Series. He eventually made his way from Cuba to playing in Japan at age 23. He was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals and played in the minors for them from 2017-2019. The Cardinals did not see the talent he possesed. They did not believe in the 32 home runs he had in 2019 and all they saw was the 159 strikeouts and just 22 walks.
In one of the more shrewd moves of the Jon Daniels era he traded for Garcia for cash considerations in December of 2019. The Cardinals thought so little of Garcia that they let Texas purchase his rights for a minimal amount of cash. At age 26 the Cardinals moved on from him. After spring training in 2021 the Texas Rangers DFA'd Garcia and then outrighted to the minors when no one put a claim on him. He eventually made his way to the majors in 2021 and has not looked back.
How Adolis Garcia became a superstar
Garcia came to Texas at a low point in the organizations' history. They had just suffered their third consecutive losing season and did not have much talent on the major league roster or in the minors. He came at the perfect time for the type of project he would be. Texas could see the raw power he possessed, but they wanted him to become a more complete hitter. That meant less chasing, making more contact, and continuing to hit for power. It was not an easy transition for someone who would regularly swing at everything from his shoes to his eyes and from the right handers batters' box to the left-handers batters box.
Texas went to work transforming Garcia. The power was obvious and in his rookie season in 2021 he set a Texas Rangers' rookie home run record with 31. He hit a wall around August and September and struggled down the stretch for a team that lost 102 games. He also had 194 strikeouts and struck out in 31% of his at-bats. That was unsustainable for a starting right fielder on a team wanting to contend. Texas continued to work with him on his pitch recognition skills and trying to get him to let some pitches go.
In 2022 Garcia saw a decrease in his strikeout percentage from 31% down to 27%. His walk rate also increased a percentage point from five to six. He was putting in the work and seeing results. Then Bruce Bochy came in with an entirely new coaching staff, but did hold over some of the hitting staff mainly Donnie Ecker. He continued to work with Garcia on his approach at the plate and in 2023 he saw massive improvements across the board. His strikeout rate remained relatively the same, but his walk rate jumped from six to 10%. He was doing a much better job laying off pitches. He was forcing pitchers to be inside the strike zone and he was ready to take advantage of mistakes. That led to a career high in home runs with 39, RBIs with 109, and walks with 65.
Garcia's performance in the ALCS
That brings us to this American League championship series. This is the series that will forever be known as when Garcia took the step from star to superstar. He was absolutely dynamic in this series. It is clear that the Astros had answers for how to pitch to Marcus Semien and Corey Seager, but no answers for Garcia.
His performances in games five through seven will be talked about by Texas Rangers' fans for years to come. It started with his three-run home run in game five to give Texas the lead. It continued with the grand slam in the ninth inning of game six that shut down any chance Houston had of coming back. It was finished with his four-hit performance in a game seven for the ages. He had two home runs, two singles, and five RBIs. Seager played a role in the win as well, but this will be the Garcia series much like Nelson Cruz owned the 2011 ALCS.
His journey seems more Hollywood than real life. If a movie was put out about his journey baseball fans would say that was completely unrealisitic. Yet, Garcia continues to live the dream. From vagabond professional baseball player just looking for a chance to now being center stage on a team that is headed to the World Series. It is real, yet unreal all at the same time. He deserves all the accolades for the work he has put in, the improvements he has made, and the swagger he gives this team. The Texas Rangers are headed the World Series on the shoulders of someone they acquired for nothing but cash.