Don’t believe the Trayce Thompson hype White Sox fans


“Don’t believe the hype”. That was a phrase made popular by the rap group Public Enemy in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It is a phrase that applies to sports more than anything else in life.

Many times in baseball, players come with quite a bit of hype before they ever even step foot on a major league field. Look at a guy like Bryce Harper. The Washington Nationals outfielder was a high school phenom and was drafted number one overall in the 2010 amateur draft.

In that same draft, the Los Angeles Dodgers picked a kid in the 11th round by the name of Joc Pederson. Pederson had none of the hype that Harper had before being drafted but tore it up during his time in the minor leagues.

For Chicago White Sox fans, the talk of the organization has been Trayce Thompson over the last month. Thompson does not have any high school or college pedigree like Harper. He also has never really put together any impressive seasons in the minor leagues.

So why does everyone want to see this kid so much? I wonder the same thing.

In 22 games (49 plate appearances) with the major league club, Thompson is hitting .400/.449/.667 with two home runs, eight RBIs and one stolen base. He is also the younger brother of NBA player Klay Thompson.

All that is nice I guess but enough to demand he be in the lineup everyday? Not even close.

To make that determination, the slashline you need to look at is .241/.319/.429. That is what Thompson has done in six seasons in the minors. While he hit 25 home runs in 2012, he hasn’t hit more than 16 in a season since. And that is why before he came up, everyone believed his ceiling was as a fourth outfielder at the MLB level.

How has manager Robin Ventura used Thompson since he has come up? Like a fourth outfielder.

He has hit exclusively against left-handed pitching (just 15 plate appearances against righties), because during his time in the minor leagues, that is where he succeeds best at. This season at Triple-A Charlotte, Thompson hit .314/.346/.483 against lefties versus .237/.285/.402 against right-handers.

Over the years, the White Sox have consistenly turned to players who are good in limited roles to play everyday roles. Remember earlier in the season when Gordon Beckham was hot?

Conor Gillaspie both offensively and defensively was having his struggles at third base while Beckham, who is always reliable with the glove. was in a successful role making starts as part of a platoon. But when he was given extended playing time at third, his average began dropping month after month.

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In 14 games (four starts) in April, he hit .333. In May when his games played total increased to 25 (14 starts), he hit .242. In June he played in 24 games (16 starts)  and his average was just .143. By that time his confidence was gone and when back in a reserve role in July and August, has hit .200 in 22 games (11 starts).

When Tyler Saladino came up earlier this season, he hit right away. Despite his ceiling being considered by most as an utility infielder because of a .261/.351/.395 line in the minors, the White Sox had a need at third base and gave him a shot. Fast forward to today and his numbers have plummeted, because essentially, he is not an everyday player. For the season, he is .240/.279/.327 in 49 games. Not exactly what you want out of your starting third baseman right?

And then you have the case of Carlos Sanchez.

Aug 8, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Chicago White Sox second basemen Carlos Sanchez (5) singles against the Kansas City Royals during the fourth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

The White Sox loved the speed factor of Micah Johnson so much, they gave him the Opening Day second base job out of Spring Training over Sanchez. Yes, Johnson is fast but his baserunning and defense was not ready for the majors thus he was optioned to Triple-A atfer just 27 games.

Sanchez isn’t quite as fast as Johnson but he is a smart baseball player. His baserunning is solid and his glove at second base may be the best we have see on the Southside in some time. That is what everyone already knew.

His offense however was an issue. In his first 33 games, he carried a line of .141/.196/.172 . How can you stay with a guy who is has it that rough at the plate?

Well he is a career .288 hitter over six minor league seasons. In 2014 he hit .293 and before being called up this season, was hitting .344. On top of that, he is arguably the best defensive player in the system.

His track record in the minors says he would figure it out and that is exactly what he did. Sanchez is now hitting .230/.266/.325. Since June 21st, he is hitting .267 which has resulted in an increase in batting average of 89 points.

So if Thompson were to finish the season as the team’s everyday designated hitter or spot-start outfielder while the combination of Avisail Garcia, Melky Cabrera and Adam Eaton DH what do you expect to happen?

The same thing that we have seen happen in the past. The full body of work says Thompson is not a future everyday player. The league is full of guys who are either reserves or platoon players. That is Thompson’s ceiling.

I understand that Adam LaRoche has failed this season as the team’s DH. But his track record is much stronger than that of Thompson’s. He is just one year removed from hitting 26 home runs. With one year left at $13 million, the White Sox are stuck with him for one more season.

In order to get production out of him next season, the White Sox can’t bail on him. Don’t eliminate the idea of him bouncing back next season just because the last DH named Adam didn’t do so. Him at his best is better than any hitter on the roster not named Abreu.

Of course I could be wrong about Thompson’s ceiling, but if you are looking to win in 2016, there is nothing Thompson can do from here on out to earn an everyday role. However, if you are looking to rebuild and take a step back, by all means, give the kid the time.

The White Sox are certain to not be looking to rebuild in the offseason. Your two best players, Chris Sale and Jose Abreu are in the prime of their careers. No GM in baseball should want to waste any of those years.

In addition to that, you have talent all across the roster. Any changes in the starting lineup must be an upgrade. Thompson’s minor league numbers say he will not be that and the White Sox don’t have time to allow him to prove them wrong.

Next: The 2016 White Sox schedule is out

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