Can White Sox use speed and power as path to postseason?
Sep 21, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Chicago White Sox right fielder Avisail Garcia (26) hits a solo home during the sixth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
This upcoming season, unlike many others, the Chicago White Sox have a good amount of speed on their roster. Don’t believe me? Look no further than their leadoff hitter, Adam Eaton.
While he isn’t a big stolen base threat yet (15 steals to nine caught stealing last year), he does have that potential. Keep in mind that stolen bases are not the only way to measure speed, as Eaton had 10 triples last season.
Then look at a five-tool talent in Avisail Garcia. While Garcia has yet to play a full season in the majors, he has all of the talent to be a star in the major leagues. Garcia has 30-home run potential, along with the ability to beat out ground balls in the infield and steal bases. The problem for Garcia is he must stay healthy to reach his full potential.
While speed is great to have, when you play your games at US Cellular Field, power is a necessity. First baseman Jose Abreu hit 36 home runs last year (rookie season), and designated hitter Adam LaRoche hit 26 with the Washington Nationals.
There is a chance that LaRoche will hit more home runs this season, assuming he doesn’t go into a decline due to his age (35). If Abreu stays healthy, my prediction is that he will hit close to 45 home runs.
Alexei Ramirez is another player who brings speed to the table. Ramirez stole 21 bases last year and has good speed overall. Ramirez doesn’t hit for much power but will give the White Sox another speed element.
Both Carlos Sanchez and Micah Johnson (who are battling for the second baseman job) could bring a speed element to the team as well, but watch out for Johnson.
Johnson has elite speed and has the ability to be a 30-40 stolen base per year player, and that might be conservative. Sanchez, though not as fast as Johnson, brings the ability to hit line drives to the team.
Two new additions, Melky Cabrera and Emilio Bonifacio, also could help out some in that department.
While Cabrera doesn’t steal bases anymore (due to injuries), he still can go first to third, and Bonifacio stole 26 bases last season. J.B. Shuck has a chance to make the roster, and while he doesn’t really steal bases, he has elite speed.
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Not to mention Tyler Flowers, who hit 15 home runs last year (solid for a catcher), and Conor Gillaspie, who is a solid contact hitter. The last player I want to mention is Leury Garcia, who in a reserve role stole 11 bases last year.
This is the most balanced lineup in years on the South Side. Will it play deep into October? Who knows, but manager Robin Ventura seems to think so.
With a stronger pitching staff and with a balanced lineup, this is a White Sox team that fans will enjoy watching, more than in past years when the lineup was power-based. While it is hard to say what the team will play like this spring, the future does look bright.
Next: Melky Cabrera's versatility is an asset for the White Sox