Which Chicago White Sox starting spot is biggest weakness?
By Brian Draus
Jul 29, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Chicago White Sox third baseman Conor Gillaspie (12) hits an RBI single in the fourth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
In my opinion, the Chicago White Sox have a few potential holes, those being second base, third base and catcher.
Considering the fact that second base is going to be manned by a rookie (most likely Micah Johnson), it is hard to say how much of a weakness that position will be. With that said, I’m calling second base a more of a question mark, rather than a weakness at this point.
But there is still third base and the catcher’s role to take a look at as a weakness for the team.
Obviously, Conor Gillaspie struggles mightily versus left-handed pitching. That is a problem due the fact that any player wanting to be an everyday player needs to be able to hit both right- and left-handed pitchers.
While I think that Gillaspie can be a solid everyday player, he’s struggled vs. LHP with a .192 against LHP.
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Another issue Gillaspie has is getting on base. While he is good at making contact (only 78 Ks in ‘14), he rarely walks (36 BBs in ’14).
While he compiled a batting average of .282 last season, his OBP failed to even reach .340 (.336), and let’s face it, Gillaspie is not a good enough hitter to survive on base hits.
Gillaspie’s biggest issue being a corner infielder is a lack of power.
Assuming he fails to hit 20 home runs per season, it will be hard for him to stick at that position, barring him hitting .300-plus. Not to mention the fact that his arm is below average, which hurts on plays that are close at first base.
Other players who could play third base are Gordon Beckham (will face LHP) and Emilio Bonifacio, but Gillaspie will get most of the starts if healthy.
Mar 10, 2015; Surprise, AZ, USA; Chicago White Sox designated hitter Tyler Flowers (21) at bat in the fourth during a spring training baseball game against the Kansas City Royals at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports
Another spot that is a weakness for the White Sox is catcher.
This may be the one position on the White Sox that doesn’t even have an average MLB player.
Tyler Flowers is the best option behind the dish for the White Sox. While he is a positive WAR player (2.3 was his highest in 2014), keep in mind he is a very flawed backstop.
Assuming he plays 120-135 games, he will probably strike out around 160 times, while rarely walking. The positive side of Flowers is that he can hit the ball out of the park and did so 15 times last season.
That is not a bad total for a catcher, especially one that needs to hit for power to be valuable.
The White Sox will need someone to back up Flowers, and my guess is that Geovany Soto will grab that role.
While he has had injuries recently, I think Soto can be a serviceable backup in the majors, assuming he is healthy.
All in all, the White Sox should be OK around the diamond except catcher, barring injury.
Hopefully, both Flowers and Soto can be serviceable at the bottom of the order, giving the White Sox some production. This offense will be more reliant on speed, meaning that Flowers may have to provide a little bit of pop at the bottom third of the order.
Overall, I like the balance of the White Sox order, and this team shouldn’t be all or nothing as they have in past years. That means the team will be able to score runs late against good pitching, something they have struggled with in past years.
If the speed and power comes together, the White Sox could be a dynamic offense, meaning the pitching will have a bit of pressure taken off of their shoulder.
If that happens, expect good things on the South Side in 2015.
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