Adam LaRoche will be a difference maker for White Sox

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Chicago White Sox designated hitter Adam LaRoche could be the difference maker for the team for the 2015 season.

Feb 28, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Chicago White Sox infielder Adam LaRoche poses for a portrait during photo day at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

LaRoche, a free agent signing this offseason, will not only protect Jose Abreu in the batting order, but he’ll give some stability at the No. 4 spot in the order for a White Sox team that hasn’t had the most consistency from the position the past few seasons.

The newest White Sox DH, LaRoche (who signed a two-year contract on Nov. 25) played the past four seasons with the Washington Nationals, where in his time with that franchise he batted .249 with a .341 on-base percentage and .441 slugging percentage.

Last season, LaRoche had a line of .259/.362/.455 in 140 games where he totaled 128 hits (19 doubles, 26 home runs) and 92 RBIs. He last won a Silver Slugger in ’12, the same season where he was a Gold Glove winner at first base.

This season, LaRoche will earn $12 million, and in ’16, his contract will be for $13 million.

What can we expect from LaRoche this season? Well, that depends on what projections you are reading.

Baseball Prospectus, using the PECOTA formula, has LaRoche batting .239 with a .323 OBP and .415 slugging percentage for the 2015 season. The PECOTA projections has LaRoche earning 20 home runs, 22 doubles, 73 runs and 71 RBIs in 552 plate appearances.

The ESPN Fantasy Baseball projections has LaRoche batting .263 with 79 RBIs, 70 runs and 25 home runs.

RotoChamp.com has the designated hitter projected for a .255 average, along with 25 home runs, 72 runs and 84 RBIs in 506 plate appearances.

How do those numbers compare to the last designated hitter on the White Sox roster in Adam Dunn. who retired after the ’14 season?

With the White Sox in ’14 (he was traded on the final day of August to the Oakland Athletics), Dunn batted .220 with a .340 OBP and .433 SLG. Dunn hit 20 home runs with the White Sox last season, while adding 54 RBIs and 17 doubles.

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Dunn struck out 132 with the White Sox in ’14, while LaRoche had 108 strikeouts all of last season with the Nationals.

With the difference in strikeouts between the two players, LaRoche most likely have more production than that of Dunn in ’14, especially with Abreu improving at that plate as well, even though he batted .317 last season and was the AL Rookie of the Year.

Besides the overall numbers LaRoche will bring to the table, it will be nice to have a new veteran leader on the ball club to replace Paul Konerko, which is sometimes more important (or just as important) as those aforementioned numbers.

On Feb. 22 in an article by Dan Hayes on CSNChicago.com, Robin Ventura said LaRoche will have a “good influence” on the team:

"“He’s honest, up front,” Ventura said. “I know where he comes from. You have a pretty good handle of who he is and where he’s been.”"

No matter what the numbers of LaRoche end up being, it is evident he’ll be a difference maker for the White Sox in ’15, whether it be with his bat as the designated hitter, his glove when Abreu has a day off at first base or with his leadership skills being a veteran of MLB for what will be his 12th season in the majors.

Yes, it is safe to say LaRoche will be a difference maker for the White Sox this season.

Next: Where will Carlos Rodon start the '15 season?

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