Tyler Saladino made his major league debut on July 10th, 2015 as his Chicago White Sox took on their crosstown rivals Chicago Cubs. He started the game at third base and hit second in the batting order. He has not relinquished the starting third base gig since.
So is it safe to say Saladino has already claimed the hot corner for 2016?
The former seventh-round pick came up to the majors bringing, as Ken “Hawk” Harrelson likes to say, the leather and the lumber. While the glovework has stayed spectacular, Saladino clearly needs to adjust to major league pitching, hitting just .217 in the month of August. He hit .260 the previous month.
The defense of Saladino has earned him every bit of his playing time as he already has saved 11 runs from scoring according to FanGraphs. Keep in mind that is 11 runs saved in 40 games at third base. Simple math says in 160 games he would save 44 runs over the course of that season. Those are Gold Glove caliber numbers. I would go as far as to say his defense has been Joe Crede-esque at the position.
His hitting will need to improve though for the White Sox front office to confidently hand him the third base starting role entering what will undoubtedly be a high-expectation season once again on the Southside.
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Until I see Saladino show he could consistently hit at the big league level, I can’t rush to proclaim him as the White Sox third baseman of the future, especially given that fact that he may slide over to shortstop when the club moves on from Alexei Ramirez. Both he and Carlos Sanchez can play there and Micah Johnson is still waiting in the wings at second base.
Third baseman of the future was originally the title for Matt Davidson. However, he has failed to live up to the hype after being acquired for former closer Addison Reed in December of 2013. With no one in the organization pushing the San Diego native for playing time, it means any competition would come from outside the organization via free agency or trade.
At this point in time, I would say Saladino has given himself the best possible shot at being the Opening Day 2016 starting third baseman for the Pale Hose. But with a month left in the season, there is still time for him to either strengthen or lose the grip on that job.