García growing in leaps and bounds in second half

August 29th, 2022

ARLINGTON -- When  is at the plate in a late-game situation, it’s almost always safe to assume he’ll come through with a big hit to win or tie a game. 

On Sunday, the outfielder was placed in that situation once again, as the Rangers trailed by one run in the ninth inning with a runner in scoring position and García at the plate, looking to keep his career-high hit streak alive. 

Instead, he struck out, finishing an 0-for-3 day at the plate and snapping a 23-game hit streak in Sunday’s 9-8 loss to the Tigers at Globe Life Field. 

“At that time, I just wanted to win the game, like always,” García said. “I was trying to hit something far or something in the gap. But in that moment, I didn’t think about any hitting [streak]. I just wanted to win the game.”

His streak was the longest active streak in MLB, and the longest by any American League batter in 2022, surpassing Valdimir Guerrero Jr. 's 22 earlier this season. It was also the fifth longest in Rangers history and the longest since Josh Hamilton’s 23 in 2010. 

Though the hit streak did come to an end, García did draw two walks on the day to maintain his 24-game on-base streak, which is the longest by a Texas hitter since a 25-gamer by Nathaniel Lowe in 2021. With 31 walks, García is also one shy of matching his career high, set last season.

“Before that [hit streak] happened, I was preparing to get better at the plate, and to get 23 straight is a completion,” García said. “I’m so proud, and I feel good for what I did. ... I think they used that against me today. They knew I wanted to hit. So the first couple of ABs [when I took the walks], I knew they weren’t going to throw me anything easy.”

For interim manager Tony Beasley, both the streak and García's willingness to take walks when necessary despite the streak is a display of his development at the plate. 

Ball four on both walks came on pitches way outside of the zone -- one high and one in the dirt -- but they were both pitches that García would have been susceptible to chasing in the past. Now though, he has an understanding of his game plan and how pitchers are going to try to attack him.

“I was impressed with him today, actually, because he took his walk and he didn't try to force it,” Beasley said. “For a guy with something on the line, like what he has, a lot of times in those 3-2 counts, you’re just in swing mode. The hit supersedes everything else, but he was patient enough to take his walks. I was just praying that he was able to get something to handle and keep his streak alive, but he continued to give us professional at-bats, and gave his team at-bats and took the walks. That was impressive for me.”

During the 23-game hit streak, García slashed .316/.350/.463 with an .813 OPS, three home runs and 16 RBIs, continuing his post-All-Star break tear on the field. 

A second-half slump is also something García struggled with during his rookie season in 2021 and again demonstrates just how much better of a player he’s become in a year’s time.

In the final 69 games last season, he struggled to keep up with his early success, slashing .211/.256/.370 with a .627 OPS. This year, García is 44-for-146 (. 301) since the All-Star break. 

“It's also showing that this year he's prepared to play a full season,” Beasley said. “He's still fresh. No one's 100%, but he's right with the pack. He's not lagging and he's not dragging through the zone. He's still able to steal bases, he still has a lot of life in his legs. We've seen him still playing with high energy. So that's a good sign. It just tells you that he's adjusted from last year and he understands how to prepare and recover."