Mitch Garver has been surprisingly versatile in 2019. He has batted in all nine positions in the lineup and has hit in the lead off spot in 19 games.
While he is not your traditional speedy leadoff hitter, Garver has really found a nice home there. In the top spot, he has nine home runs, and put together a .364 OBP and a 1.065 OPS. He has seven of those home runs and two doubles in 76 at bats while leading off an inning. His OBP is .368 in that situation as well.
At the plate, Garver arrived on the scene last season, hitting .268. While his average is just one point lower in 2019 through Thursday night, Garver has smacked 24 homers this season. This is compared to the 28 total extra base hits in 2018. His on base percentage has gone up 11 points this season.
In 2018, Garver hit mostly toward the bottom of the order. All but 16 of his plate appearances were at fifth or below in the order. Moving him up and seeing more pitches have both led to the success that Garver is enjoying.
After launching eight home runs in July, he has hit a real slump in August. However, he appears to show signs of breaking out of that by going 3-for-4, with a home run on Wednesday in the leadoff spot. Prior to that game, he was 10-for-61 on the month with seven extra base hits.
Garver has also improved behind the plate. He upgraded from a -0.2 dWAR to a 0.5 player this season. His caught stealing percentage has also gone up five percent to 23 this season.
This production appears to be consistent as well. Garver had three really strong Minor League seasons out of four, with similar numbers. While he had a down 2015 at High-A, Garver shot through the system, averaging 29 doubles and 15 home runs between 2014, ’16, and ’17. His lowest average in that span was .270 and lowest OBP was .342. He has been consistent at the plate and pretty much on par with what he has shown in 2019 in the big leagues.
Showing some life in his last game is key as well, because the Twins need Garver to set the tone with the Indians nipping at their heels in the standings. With three teams having at least 77 wins battling for the Wild Card, holding off Cleveland and winning the division is the least stressful route for Minnesota. Garver will be a key to this stretch run and getting him back on track is paramount.