St. Louis Cardinals: A Justified Love Affair for Greg Garcia and Breyvic Valera

BY Fansided and Dr. Michael D. Miles/FanSided via Redbird Rants • June 30, 2017

The St. Louis Cardinals intended to improve their defense up the middle of the infield during this offseason. As the offseason comes to a close, and no infield additions appear(ed), is there love to be had for names already on the roster?

Let me jump right to the chase here: I love Greg Garcia and Breyvic Valera and think they are the future of the St. Louis Cardinals infield. I’m sure I’ve already lost a great deal of readers with those opinions (maybe specifically related to Garcia) but so be it.

If you are still with me, thanks for sticking it out. Trust me, I have my reasons. First, I love a good scrappy player (see my deeply-rooted love for Aaron Miles in my previous articles) and both Greg and Breyvic (what a tough name to say and type) are scrappy players.

Second, I think these are silent killers bolstering a lineup while lacking individual pizazz but providing support often unmatched. These submarines, these u-boats, are dangerous because all too often teams fail to credit them until it is too late.

I will immediately admit here (a bit of delimitation in dissertation speak) that Valera has yet to crack the MLB ceiling so his prowess is major-league-unproven as of yet. I predict that 2017 will be the season he eliminates this fact from his lexicon. Let me show you Breyvic’s minor league career numbers:

Year Age Lev G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2010 18 FRk 60 212 40 69 16 6 1 22 10 3 24 15 .325 .402 .472 .873
2011 19 Rk 47 183 39 57 9 3 1 21 14 6 15 26 .311 .368 .410 .777
2011 19 Rk 28 110 23 28 5 2 1 13 7 1 10 17 .255 .328 .364 .692
2011 19 Rk 19 73 16 29 4 1 0 8 7 5 5 9 .397 .430 .479 .910
2012 20 A–AA 72 287 41 90 18 4 1 34 10 6 18 27 .314 .356 .415 .771
2012 20 A- 69 282 39 89 18 4 1 33 10 6 18 27 .316 .359 .418 .777
2012 20 AA 3 5 2 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 .200 .200 .200 .400
2012 20 FgW 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2013 21 A 128 515 71 159 18 6 0 48 13 7 40 30 .309 .358 .367 .725
2013 21 FgW 60 202 26 55 5 7 0 17 6 5 15 18 .272 .318 .366 .685
2014 22 A+-AA 132 521 66 163 16 6 0 57 17 15 40 35 .313 .361 .367 .728
2014 22 A+ 73 294 35 98 8 4 0 37 13 10 25 13 .333 .385 .388 .773
2014 22 AA 59 227 31 65 8 2 0 20 4 5 15 22 .286 .329 .339 .668
2014 22 Fal 12 39 5 13 1 0 0 5 3 2 5 3 .333 .400 .359 .759
2014 22 FgW 23 95 18 31 6 0 0 12 4 2 8 9 .326 .385 .389 .774
2015 23 AA-A+ 119 411 46 103 12 3 3 38 2 7 45 29 .251 .323 .316 .640
2015 23 A+ 14 51 9 18 3 1 0 7 0 3 11 2 .353 .468 .451 .919
2015 23 AA 105 360 37 85 9 2 3 31 2 4 34 27 .236 .301 .297 .598
Year Age Lev G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2015 23 FgW 60 212 31 62 9 4 2 20 8 13 30 12 .292 .381 .401 .782
2016 24 AAA-AA 125 395 48 120 19 2 0 43 11 5 40 40 .304 .363 .362 .725
2016 24 AA 52 178 16 46 5 1 0 12 3 1 9 18 .258 .289 .298 .587
2016 24 AAA 73 217 32 74 14 1 0 31 8 4 31 22 .341 .417 .415 .832
Minors (7 seasons) Minors 683 2524 351 761 108 30 6 263 77 49 222 202 .302 .358 .375 .733
Foreign (4 seasons) Foreign 144 509 76 148 20 11 2 49 18 20 53 39 .291 .357 .385 .742
All Levels (7 Seasons) 839 3072 432 922 129 41 8 317 98 71 280 244 .300 .358 .377 .735
Rk (1 season) Minors 47 183 39 57 9 3 1 21 14 6 15 26 .311 .368 .410 .777
A+ (2 seasons) Minors 87 345 44 116 11 5 0 44 13 13 36 15 .336 .398 .397 .796
AA (4 seasons) Minors 219 770 86 197 22 5 3 64 9 10 58 67 .256 .306 .309 .615

Impressive in solid ways. I’ll take a .300/.358/.377 hitter any day. Imagine- if he can hold these numbers in St. Louis- having this bat in the lineup. Imagine using him to shore-up the back-end or front-end of the lineup.

Even more impressive, Valera’s defense at second and short stop in 2016 ranked at fielding percentages of .992 and .934 respectively. His range factors at each (per nine innings) were ranked at 5.00 at second and 4.93 at short stop. As a point of reference, Aledmys Diaz posted a .961 fielding percentage and an RF/9 of 3.93 at short stop.

You draw your own conclusions… I’m moving on to Greg Garcia. Garcia, who has made it to the MLB level, excites me in similar ways. It also helps that Garcia has come through at times when the St. Louis Cardinals have needed him the most.

Remember the late game heroics during his 2015 season when his first MLB home run tied the game against the Cubs allowing the Cardinals to later win in the same game? I remember it well and remember similar moments of his greatness in both Memphis and St. Louis.

Just as Valera’s numbers encourage his promotion, Garcia’s number encourage his remaining on the roster and serving as the ready backup for the Cardinals infield. Here’s a look:

Year Age Lg G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2014 24 NL 14 14 2 2 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 6 .143 .333 .214 .548
2015 25 NL 49 75 7 18 5 0 2 4 0 0 10 12 .240 .337 .387 .724
2016 26 NL 99 214 33 59 11 0 3 17 1 1 38 50 .276 .393 .369 .762
3 Yrs 162 303 42 79 17 0 5 22 1 1 49 68 .261 .377 .366 .743
162 Game Avg. 162 303 42 79 17 0 5 22 1 1 49 68 .261 .377 .366 .743

Impressive without flash, yes? No, his .261 BA isn’t going to rattle any real cages nor make anyone jump to swipe him from the St. Louis Cardinals but he presents with so many intangibles that it is really tough to write about him.

    It is tough to convince a reader that Garcia has merit when you cannot point to shiny stats. Ignoring that, one stat that is often overlooked is the OBP which is something that Garcia does shine at; Garcia is not at all afraid of taking a walk and getting on base to bother a pitcher and that is a valuable asset to have on a team. Just look at his thirty-eight walks in 2016 in just 214 at-bats!

    Often a pest is more impressive and of greater impact than the loudest explosion– just sleep one night in a room with that rogue mosquito buzzing around your ear. Garcia is the Cardinals version of that mosquito.

    His defense isn’t one to discredit either. In 2016, he owned a fielding percentage of .974 at second base and .951 at short stop. At second base, Garcia carried a 4.42 RF/9 at second base and a 3.86 at short stop. His sample might be small but his reinforcement would not be wisely tossed aside.

    To wrap this, let me propose one of the greatest Cardinals as a point of reference: (sir) Ozzie Smith. The Wizard was one h*ll of a scrappy player. In his day, Ozzie posted a career slash line (19 years) of .262/.337/.328 with a fielding percentage of .978 at short and a RF/9 of 5.22. Sound familiar?

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    Listen, I’m not saying that Garcia nor Valera are Ozzie Smith but they sure aren’t too far off. They aren’t flashy like some short stops (read: Derek Jeter), but they are beautifully hidden gems. I look forward to a great 2017 supporting season for Garcia and an MLB debut for Valera.

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