Sep 20, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Chicago White Sox third basemanConor Gillaspie
(12) hits sacrifice fly scoring left fielderAlejandro De Aza
(not pictured) in the first inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Not to belabor a point until we’re all dead, but Conor Gillaspie continues to be decent against right-handed pitching. He added a triple and a walk on Sunday to bring his line on the season against righties to .268/.329/.425, a shade over league-average production for someone playing in U.S. Cellular Field. There’s not a lot of noise to that sample either. Gillaspie’s closing in on 400 plate appearances versus opposite-handed pitching, his BABIP is a mild .289, and while U.S. Cellular Field has probably add some home runs to his total, he’s not relying on a Trevor Plouffe-like power surge that should quickly fade away.
It’s also important to note, that most pitchers are right-handed and most White Sox hitters are fairly bad, so Gillaspie recent stretch of appearances at the No. 3 hole is not so absurd. Behind Avisail Garcia and Adam Dunn, no one on the Sox has a higher OPS against righties. A league-average platoon-hitting third basemen is not a cornerstone of a World Series franchise, and the hot corner seems like the most viable location for Marcus Semien to burst through and force his way into a starting job,
But while Gillaspie is not showstopping or considered a prospect with more potential, it’s hard for to him to fall to where he should be fighting to keep a roster spot in 2014. There are too few White Sox who hit righties better than him, and unless a half-dozen left-handed mashers are coming aboard in the off-season, that will be true next Spring.
Erik Johnson‘s lack of strikeouts
Drifting through even a Miguel Cabrera-free Tigers lineup for 6.2 innings and allowing two earned runs might have been a more impressive accomplishment for young Erik Johnson than blitzing the lineup the Twins offered up at him earlier in the week, but his strikeouts disappeared again, despite Nick giving him this plaudit in his recap:
"“Johnson showed his solid curve and the interesting tailing action on his fastball to keep Tigers hitters off balance for most of the day, going 6.2IP with two runs allowed. I was surprised to see he only struck out one hitter, although that was balanced by the zero posted in the walk column.”"
He recorded just one over the course of the start, similar to his debut, where he also traded whiffs for a generous groundball ratio.
In a world where essentially non-prospects like Jose Quintana and Hector Santiago who are only occasionally visited with reliable breaking pitches can’t stop racking up strikeouts, it’s weird to see Johnson struggle to overwhelm hitters with raw stuff that can be clearly seen. That slider in the mid-80’s should give a lot of people problems, his curveball stealing strikes really tilts things to his advantage, his fastball does have life–albeit less life on Sunday, since it was at least two miles per hour down from what he’s shown previously.
Johnson’s no Gerrit Cole, but what we’ve seen should offer more patience and less skepticism for his lack of whiffs than was offered to Dylan Axelrod, or even Philip Humber during his low-strikeout start to 2011, guys who clearly were not awash in ways to retire hitters. The stuff is there.
What’s there for Avisail?
The stuff is all there for Avisail Garcia–power, hit tool, speed, arm-strength, etc.–but there’s a lot less quiet confidence about him putting it together. Garcia has hit .319/.348/.444 in a White Sox uniform mostly by chopping groundballs up the middle, which is a perfectly great existence if he can prove that chopping groundballs up the middle can provide a stable existence.
The Avisail who golfed a bad Max Scherzer curveball down the left field line and into a parallel dimension on Friday night, or an Avisail who golfs anything down the left field line, is a more interesting version. Having the power to take the ball out to the opposite field is impressive and makes Garcia harder to pitch, only having the ability to take the ball out to the opposite field and never bringing your hands in and turning on pitches is more of an ailment associated with Dayan Viciedo, but as @_3E8 pointed out the night it happened, Avisail has one-upped Dayan so far. Garcia now has all of two fly balls hit to left field in his major league career.
He should do something about increasing that total.
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan