CLEVELAND — Avisail Garcia sat out the White Sox’ season finale against the Indians on Sunday and finished with a .330 batting average, topped in the American League only by Astros MVP candidate Jose Altuve.
It was the highest average by a qualifying Sox player since Hall of Famer Frank Thomas won the AL batting title with a .347 average in 1997. Garcia also notched career highs in homers with 18 and RBI with 80.
Told that finishing the season with a .330 batting average had a nice ring to it, Avisail smiled and said, “You think so?’’
“I’m happy,’’ said Garcia, who came into the season with a career .257 average. “I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time. I always believe if you work hard, one day it is going to pay off.’’
Like Jose Abreu, Garcia will be under contract control through 2019. His performance could force the front office to make a tough decision about whether he fits into their rebuilding program. Garcia wants to be a part of it.
“It’s all about winning,’’ Garcia said. “We’re going to spring training to win, and everyone wants to be part of a winning team. I want to be a part of this team for a long time. I love this team, I love the coaches, the players, so I want to stay here.’’
Garcia showed the Sox that his first half wasn’t a fluke, manager Rick Renteria said.
“Our question was, is he going to be able to sustain this after the All-Star break? He certainly has,’’ Renteria said. “So if there was any doubt as to who he’s becoming or what he will be, he’s starting to show you signs of all the things that are coming to him.’’
A tribute to Hawk
Ken Harrelson broadcast his final game on the road and received a scoreboard tribute during the first inning at Progressive Field. Harrelson got somewhat choked up in the visitors’ clubhouse after the game but held it together.
“I had a lot of fun. I’ve been blessed, but it’s over,’’ he said.
Not entirely. The “Hawk” will serve as a Sox ambassador until the first day of 2020, he said, marking the beginning of his eighth decade in baseball after signing in 1959.
A five-time Emmy Award winner and three-time Ford Frick Award nominee, Harrelson is scheduled to broadcast primarily Sunday home games and other select telecasts next season.
Fine finish for Moncada
Second baseman Yoan -Moncada went 1-for-3 with a double off the wall to hit safely in 16 of his last 21 games, batting .299 over that span with five homers, two doubles, a triple and 11 RBI. He raised his average from .179 to .231.
“The pitchers command their breaking pitches better here than in the minors,’’ said Moncada, who improved against offspeed stuff in the final three weeks.
Sox get fourth pick in draft
The Sox finished with the fourth-worst record in baseball, which gives them the fourth pick in the draft next June. That will be the highest they’ve picked since Carlos Rodon was selected third in 2014. The Cubs did the Sox a favor by losing to the Reds, who would have bumped the Sox to fifth with a loss Sunday.
Follow me on Twitter @CST_soxvan.