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In February 2021, the Atlanta Braves placed Kyle Garlick on waivers. He never played for Atlanta, and lasted just 14 days in their organization. Minnesota claimed him on February 11 and one of the greatest platoon players in club history was officially starting his journey.

 

When the Twins claimed Kyle Garlick, he had just 42 Major League games under his belt. A former 28th-round pick by the Los Angeles Dodgers, Garlick had posted a paltry. 691 OPS and had only eight extra-base hits to his credit. He saw success to the tune of a 117 OPS+ in his first 30 games with the Dodgers, but then failed to replicate that production with a -3 OPS+ playing 12 games with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2020.

As a 29-year-old, Minnesota saw him as an option to be their fourth outfielder. Possessing a left-hand-heavy group, Garlick presented a platoon bat that could play on the corners. Although not a given to make the 2021 roster, he was activated on April 29, 2021, and the intentions of his usage immediately became evident.

Minnesota wanted him almost entirely to face left-handed pitching. Of his 107 plate appearances last season, 63 of them came against southpaws. He posted an .878 OPS and clubbed four of his five dingers against them. The downside was a lopsided 19/2 K/BB and the eventual sports hernia injury that ended his season on July 24.

The production as a whole was hardly noteworthy, just a .745 OPS and 103 OPS+, ultimately making him dispensable and leading to an outright off the 40-man roster in November. Wanting to keep him in the organization and see what could happen, Minnesota gave Garlick a Spring Training invite as a non-roster player for 2022, and he became a necessary addition to the active roster just a few games into the season.

Now with 19 games played this season, and a brief stint on the injured list interrupting continuity, Garlick looks like one of the league’s best platoon players. Minnesota has received a 1.011 OPS out of Garlick, equating to a 198 OPS+. He already has four homers to his credit and the 7/6 K/BB has made his plate discipline that much scarier for the opposition.

The sample size remains extremely small thus far, but the Twins have done well to put Garlick in advantageous situations once again. Across 40 plate appearances, Garlick has seen a lefty 25 times. In those matchups he owns a .350/.440/.800 slash line with three homers and eight RBI. Going so well at the plate, Garlick came up in the biggest spot of his season on Sunday when he faced tough Kansas City Royals righty Scott Barlow, and took him deep for a two-run blast.

The proverbial leash for Garlick has to have grown to immense proportions at this point. Although he hasn’t had a significant opportunity to cement the production as sustainable, he remains an oddity on a roster chock full of left-handed outfielders. Whether Trevor Larnach, Max Kepler, Nick Gordon, or Alex Kirilloff flank Byron Buxton on a regular basis, there has to be a power-hitting option that can swap in for them. Gilberto Celestino has done an amazing job to stake claim as a regular this season, but it’s Garlick who can bring the same thump on the corners.

Minnesota had to proceed with caution following a surgical procedure (sports hernia) for their platoon player, but bringing him back on a non-guaranteed deal has worked out fabulously thus far. Garlick will forever be overmatched against a consistent barrage of right-handed pitching, but if Rocco Baldelli continues to pull the right strings for his 30-year-old slugger, Garlick could have a truly magical season pounding southpaws into the dirt.

A late-round pick that bounced around after some early success, Garlick seems to have found both a home and a calling in Minnesota. If he can keep mashing taters, he’ll continue to find his name on the lineup card.

 


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18 minutes ago, miller761 said:

Everyone (including me) who thought he should not make this team in the spring raise your hand and be counted.

Wasn't the option between keeping Cave or him?  I would have voted keep Garlic 10 out of 10 times.  

But I don't remember, it seems so long ago.

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I am happy with his SSS output, but his value is very limited.  He hits LH pitching only.  Sure, that can be very helpful for pinch hitting or the few starts against LH starters.  However, that is all he is good for, and if he starts to falter on that, then he has little value.  I am not saying he need to be cut, but he is still on the short list guy to be cut off roster when 60 man IL guys come back.  I do feel if you have an almost complete team he is that bonus guy for big pinch hit at bats in big games.  I would fully be willing to roll with him for that roll in the playoffs. Knowing you can bring him in late against a LH guy and may hit it out is nice to know, and may affect how a team uses their pen. 

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I'm not a big fan of aggressive platooning, but I must admit they've found a nice rhythm here. I give Garlick a lot of credit because what he's doing - getting 2 PAs at the beginning of a game when a lefty starts or 1-2 PAs in the back half of a game when a righty starts - is tough to do mentally. Garlick has handled it really well. 

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Platoons have always been an easy way to squeeze extra production out of a given position. It's just been increasingly more difficult to do as pitching staffs have grown in size over time and gobbled up roster spots.

He's a good fit for the Twins because a team is going to carry more than three OFers and the Twins regular corners are lefties at the plate. Garlick's particularly strong bat against lefty pitching is perfect. 

The platoon advantage is real. No sense fighting it. Where you can, use it.

 

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25 minutes ago, USAFChief said:

Platoons have always been an easy way to squeeze extra production out of a given position. It's just been increasingly more difficult to do as pitching staffs have grown in size over time and gobbled up roster spots.

And as opponents use 5 pitchers per game. Platoon opportunities have become less of a "playing against RH starting pitcher" and more like "pinch-hitting against RH reliever."

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1 minute ago, PDX Twin said:

And as opponents use 5 pitchers per game. Platoon opportunities have become less of a "playing against RH starting pitcher" and more like "pinch-hitting against RH reliever."

Or getting 2 PAs against the LH starter, who's only going to see the opponent lineup twice.

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He was the surprise of the 2021 spring training, beating out Broxton and Rooker and, in many ways, Cave.

I'm glad he is finding space in major league ball and making the msot of his opportunities.

But he is, sadly, the 26th man on the Twins roster. Considering the Twins have no REAL designated hitter, he is better than, say, just Cruz who could only bat. You can put Garlick in the field after pinch hitting.

Now if he could transition into some first baseman skills perhaps?

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He has been useful for the Twins but with our abundance of OFs Buxton, Kepler, Celestino, Larnach, Gordon and Kiriloff eventually coming back who do we cut? Celestino and Gordon are much better gloves and flexible while still swing a pretty good bat, Larnach is comparable to Garlic defensively but our league is pretty heavy RHPing which in my book Garlic is the odd man out. When Kiriloff actually comes back, Buxton could possibly be place on the IL. That could give Garlic some more time but it is only delaying the inevitable.

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1 hour ago, Doctor Gast said:

He has been useful for the Twins but with our abundance of OFs Buxton, Kepler, Celestino, Larnach, Gordon and Kiriloff eventually coming back who do we cut? Celestino and Gordon are much better gloves and flexible while still swing a pretty good bat, Larnach is comparable to Garlic defensively but our league is pretty heavy RHPing which in my book Garlic is the odd man out. When Kiriloff actually comes back, Buxton could possibly be place on the IL. That could give Garlic some more time but it is only delaying the inevitable.

If you're going to cut garlic, don't mince words.

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7 hours ago, miller761 said:

Everyone (including me) who thought he should not make this team in the spring raise your hand and be counted.

While his ST numbers were dreadful in the limited a bats I observed he was hitting bullets for outs. If he can stay healthy he definitely has a role on this roster.

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Kyle Garlick was drafted in the 28th round by the Dodgers in 2015 after he set the single season home run record at Cal Poly Pomona. 

He never showed up in the top prospect rankings (28th round picks rarely do) but he worked his way up the Dodger farm system anyway by hitting right handers and left handers.

In 2019 with AAA Oklahoma City while also taking occasional cups of coffee with the Dodgers when they needed a body. Kyle hit 23 Home Runs in 81 games at AAA with a BA of .314. 

Outfielders also on the roster with the Dodgers in 2019 were names like Cody Bellinger, Joc Pederson, Alex Verdugo, AJ Pollack, Chris Taylor and Enrique Hernandez so playing time was going to be hard to find. 

The Dodgers are also a platoon inclined orientation. Joc Pederson was someone for example that they didn't want facing left handers (49 AB's against lefties in 2019). Garlick became the guy who could take those AB's away when he was in town and he was limited to facing left handers despite no indication that he needed to be platooned in the minor leagues. In just 48 AB's... Garlick did pretty good. 3 Jacks with an OPS+ of 117. 

In 2020 the Dodgers added Mookie Betts to the OF options making it even harder for Garlick to crack an already loaded roster and he was also out of options so understandably he was designated for assignment. 5 days later the Phillies traded for him and gave him a roster spot. During the Covid Year... he had 23 AB's total and those 23 AB's were not good. 

The Phillies DFA'd him on January 18, 2021... The Braves claimed him off waivers 4 days later and DFA'd him before spring training on February 5, 2022. 6 Days later the Twins claimed him off waivers. We've all seen him since then. 

All of this is important when trying to decide just who Kyle Garlick is. How can anyone know? 

He hit the ball hard in the minors against left and right handers in an organization that was stacked to the brim with talented OF'ers. The Dodgers made him a short side platoon when he got his limited chances along side lots of talent who also want AB's. The Phillies didn't do anything with him during Covid 2020 and the Twins have continued the short side platoon started briefly by the Dodgers in 2019. 

He sure looks like he can hit. I just wonder if he has gotten a fair shot to grab something with both hands. 

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