Here a big question for not just the front office of the Chicago White Sox, but fans of the team as well: Who do you want to start at second base on Opening Day?
Feb 28, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Chicago White Sox infielder Micah Johnson poses for a portrait during photo day at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
While Micah Johnson may bring a level of excitement to his game, will he make too many mistakes at the position?
As we all know, it isn’t the great plays that decide close games … more so what decides games are the errant ones.
Assuming Carlos Sanchez makes the Opening Day roster, the White Sox wouldn’t have an electric base-stealer at the bottom of the order. While that may not be an issue as long as he puts the ball in play, Sanchez struggled with making contact last season in limited play with 25 strikeouts in 100 at-bats.
Here is another question: Can Johnson become an average defender in the American League?
While Johnson didn’t play in the majors last year, Sanchez played in 27 games at second base. Considering that he only made one error in those games, will he be the better option over Sanchez, not just defensively, but also at the plate, with a .250 average with just five RBIs and no home runs?
A lot of Sanchez’s value has to do with the fact that he is a line drive hitter. If he does not greatly reduce his strikeout rate, he won’t have much value in the major leagues.
Without the ability to hit home runs or be a great base stealer, Sanchez has to be a good contact hitter. While he could be a solid defender at second base, it will be hard for him to stick around if he doesn’t become at least an Eduardo Escobar type of hitter.
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Personally, I think Johnson has the greater upside over Sanchez. While Sanchez might be more consistent (fewer errors in his minor league career), Johnson does provide something that Sanchez doesn’t: elite speed, and the one thing that you can’t teach is elite speed.
Even though Johnson may have some issues in the field that could cause problems in a tight game, he also could turn a close game around on the base paths. Johnson does have great range, but it is consistency with him you worry about (52 errors in his minor league career ’12-14).
Assuming Johnson can be at least a serviceable defender in spring training, I would bring him north once camp breaks.
I think both Sanchez and Johnson have their strengths and weaknesses, it is just that Johnson can be an electric base stealer at the bottom of the order, and that is just tough to find.
While defense is key when it comes to winning games, speed is just as important offensively.
Too many strikeouts from Sanchez at the bottom of the order would be devastating, and if Johnson could just make contact and get on base at a .330 clip, all of the sudden lead-off batter Adam Eaton would be able to see better pitches, which would be great since he was already a .300 hitter last season.
Johnson’s speed trumps Sanchez in this debate … now let’s see how all of this turns out.