Jul 21, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago White Sox third baseman Conor Gillaspie throws to first base against the Kansas City Royals in the first inning at U.S Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Here is a question I would like to propose: Will Conor Gillaspie ever become an above-average MLB third baseman for the Chicago White Sox?
Here are a few issues that need to be addressed in order for him to do so.
• Hit well for the entire season
Gillaspie has been a better hitter in the first half of his first two seasons with the White Sox.
Two seasons ago (2013), he hit .248 in the first half, while in 2014 he hit a robust .326. Here is where the problem comes into play with Gillaspie: he has a drop-off in the second half of the season.
In 2013, he dropped down to .241 in the second half, while in 2014 his average dipped to .228. The 2014 drop-off was significant, with it being nearly .100 points.
• Hit left-handed pitching better
While Gillaspie has been able to hit right-handed pitching, he has struggled versus left-handed pitching, according to stats on ESPN.com.
Gillaspie hit .159 (2013) and .221 (2014) respectively against left-handed pitchers, which is well below his complete batting average. Gillaspie only has two home runs total over the last two years versus left-handed pitching.
If Gillaspie does not improve versus left-handed pitching, he will struggle to be an everyday third baseman in the major leagues.
• Hit for more power
Third base is a position that teams are looking for power and run production out of. Gillaspie is lacking in that category.
While in his first season on the South Side (2013), he managed to hit 13 home runs, he trailed off in that department in 2014. Gillaspie managed just seven home runs for the White Sox in 2014, which is not acceptable numbers for a third baseman, unless he is hitting .330 or playing Gold Glove defense. Gillaspie does neither of these things.
Josh Donaldson led the majors with 29 home runs for a third baseman in ’14. Gillaspie was 31st on the list.
• Final thoughts
Gillaspie would be best suited to learn another position (or two) such as left field and/or second base. If he is only able to play third base for the rest of his MLB career, one of two things are going to happen: either he is going to have to hit for more power, plus hit his weight versus lefties, or he will not have a long career.
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Gillaspie can play other positions if he worked at it. He may be a perfect platoon option at multiple positions, due to the fact that he can hit right-handed pitching (.300 in 2014). While I like Gillaspie as a player, he just may not be suited to be an everyday third baseman.
He has a place both this year and in the future with the White Sox, but with Matt Davidson waiting in the wings in Triple-A, he may be destined for another role on the South Side.