Mar 17, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Chicago White Sox infielder Adam LaRoche against the Seattle Mariners at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Abreu was the 2014 American League Rookie of the Year, while his backup (and designated hitter) LaRoche is a former Gold Glove winner at the position in his time with the Washington Nationals.
In a closer look at Abreu’s numbers from the ’14 season, he played 109 games at first base (105 complete games), where in 957.1 innings he had just six errors (1,045 chances) for a .994 fielding percentage.
Abreu also compiled 69 assists and was a part of 105 double plays turned by the White Sox in ’14.
Being an All-Star his first season in the majors in ’14, Abreu not only batted .317 and led the majors with a .581 on-base percentage and a 169 OPS+, he finished as the AL Rookie of the Year, a Silver Slugger winner and was fourth in the AL MVP voting.
Three different months last season Abreu batted over .300 (June: .300, July: .374 and August: .376), with each month having no fewer than 99 at-bats.
This spring (through Monday, March 30), Abreu in 16 games is batting .479 with a .490 OBP and .625 slugging percentage. In 48 at-bats thus far this spring, Abreu has also compiled 23 hits (two doubles, one triple, one home run), eight runs and seven RBIs.
Abreu has struck out just six times this spring and has an OPS of 1.115.
Some experts are saying Abreu could suffer the dreaded sophomore slump, but as he wasn’t a “normal” rookie last season in his first MLB campaign, I don’t consider year two for Abreu “normal” either, so I’m debunking any notion of a sophomore slump for Abreu.
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As for LaRoche, how perfect is it for the White Sox to have LaRoche on the roster as a DH, but also as a former Gold Glove winner to give Abreu a break every now and again at first?
LaRoche is a perfect fit with this roster, and he bring a good veteran presence to replace the now-retired Paul Konerko as one of the veteran voices in the clubhouse.
The new White Sox DH and part-time first baseman LaRoche isn’t having the best spring from the plate with a .186 average through Monday’s games, but in his 15 games this spring he does have 10 RBIs, eight hits and five runs.
Again, it is just spring training, so like Abreu’s “sophomore slump,” I’m not worried about the spring numbers of LaRoche. His numbers with the Nationals in ’14 were .259/.362/.472 with 73 runs, 19 doubles, 26 home runs and 92 RBIs.
In the field last season with the Nationals, LaRoche had a .994 fielding percentage with seven errors in 1,200 chances.
It is safe to say the White Sox have a good depth at the first base position for the upcoming season, and even parts of this spring Conor Gillaspie has filled in the first base role. First base isn’t a position the White Sox have to worry about this season.
Sure, the White Sox need Abreu to stay healthy this season, but they do have solid depth, so if Abreu would need a break this upcoming season, LaRoche will be available.
Last year Abreu had fatigue problems towards the end of the season, but his overall numbers never suffered. Even in the month where he was “fatigued,” Abreu still batted .298 in the final month of the season (84 at-bats) in 23 games.
The first base position should be fun and exciting to watch, and with both Abreu and LaRoche, they should bring a lot of excellent play and excitement to the lineup in ’15.