Adolis pads ROY résumé with banner game

OF wows on defense twice, ties Rangers’ rookie RBI record

September 29th, 2021

ARLINGTON -- has spent his rookie season hitting game-winning home runs and breaking Rangers rookie offensive records. But his defensive abilities have been just as good during his American League Rookie of the Year campaign.

His most recent display came in the top of the second inning of Texas’ series-opening 5-2 win over the Angels on Tuesday at Globe Life Field. With García playing right field, Angels second baseman David Fletcher lined a ball into foul territory. Already shaded towards the right-field line, García sprinted in the direction of the ball and jumped into the guardrails in front of the field-level suites to snag the ball for the defensive gem.

Utility infielder Andy Ibáñez said what struck him most about García's catch was not the play itself, but that he did it after a poor at-bat in the first in which he flied out to left field.

“I’m super impressed with Adolis, because he always talks about how even when he doesn’t do well at the plate, he needs to go out and perform extra hard on defense,” Ibáñez explained. “That’s Adolis, and that is his mentality. It’s very impressive to me.”

Manager Chris Woodward agreed, saying that it’s easy to play defense when you’re hitting well.

“I told him after the game, 'That's pretty special, what you're able to do on a nightly basis,'” Woodward said. “He shows our entire team what we want out of our players. He’s a two-way player. I've never seen a play like the one on Fletcher. To jump into the wall like that, I thought he dislocated a shoulder, but he pops right up, no big deal. It’s just special, special stuff.”

García struck again in the bottom of the second, driving in a run on a grounder as part of a four-run frame for the Rangers. He tacked on another RBI in the seventh on a single to up his season total to 88, which tied the Rangers' rookie record set by Pete Incaviglia in 1986.

In the fourth, García was back it on defense.

Angels third baseman Jack Mayfield led off the inning with a single, but García quickly doubled him off following a lineout from Jose Rojas. With Mayfield already near second base as García caught Rojas' liner, the Rangers' right fielder made a perfect throw to first for the 9-3 putout.

That was García's 16th outfield assist (the most by a Rangers rookie outfielder in a season), which tied Boston's Hunter Renfroe for the MLB lead. It’s the fourth most in a season in Rangers history and the most since Ruben Sierra had 17 in 1987.

Woodward noted that while Garcia’s defensive prowess may be overlooked outside of the Rangers’ organization, he’s still ranked highly in many metrics. For instance, García leads MLB rookies with 13 defensive runs saved (10-RF; 3-CF) in the Sports Info Solutions metrics. He also led AL rookie position players in WAR, per Fangraphs, at 2.8 entering Tuesday.

“He stands out,” Woodward said. “If he didn't play center field this year, I think he'd be a unanimous Gold Glove right fielder. He'd probably be in contention for the Platinum Glove, honestly, he's been that good. Unfortunately, he played a ton of games in center field. Maybe he doesn't have enough games at either to win a Gold Glove. But [defense] can't be overlooked in his game.”

García currently holds a number of Rangers rookie records, including game-winning RBIs (14) and total bases (257). He’s tied with Incaviglia for the rookie homer mark (30) and he trails by just two for Mark Teixeira’s extra-base hits record (60, 2003).

Among MLB rookies, García leads in RBIs, total bases, and extra-base hits (58); he trails Baltimore’s Ryan Mountcastle in homers (32). García will likely be just the second rookie to lead the Rangers in both home runs and RBIs in club history, joining Dave Hostetler (1982).

Woodward said the numbers speak for themselves when it comes to the Rookie of the Year race.

“It's been pretty special,” Woodward said of García’s season. “There's been so many really cool moments with him. That has to count for something. The numbers are good enough that he was an All-Star this year. He carried this team. It’s really difficult to do what he's done, and to continue to be successful every night. What he did today on defense, those are two plays you don't see anybody else make. I would be surprised, honestly, if he didn’t [win Rookie of the Year] at this point.”