In my opinion, the Chicago White Sox may be changing shortstops come opening day 2016. While 2015 shortstop Alexei Ramirez still produces at a decent level, my question is simple. Considering his style of play, would keeping him around be a good idea? Ramirez is more of a player with a loopy swing that will chase pitches. That is okay, if he hits 15-18 home runs and drives in 70 runs. However, that is no longer happening.
I have some serious concerns going forward with Ramirez. Due to the fact that Ramirez is a player with elite range and athleticism, aging will not be kind to those two attributes.
Another serious concern for Ramirez is his bat speed. Ramirez has a wiry body with tremendous bat speed. Since he is not as muscular as many of the big time MLB players, if his bat speed decreases he could begin to have serious struggles.
Now, here is the problem that the White Sox have. If they don’t bring Ramirez back, who takes over at shortstop? Since top prospect Tim Anderson is still one year away from the majors, the placeholder as of right now would be Tyler Saladino.
While Saladino may strike out more, I think he still might be a better contact hitter in key situations against better pitchers. Here’s why in my opinion. Saladino is a player that doesn’t seem to swing for the fence in key situations, he just tries to get on base.
Not to mention, there is still room for growth with Saladino. Ramirez is a hitter that will pop a lot of pitches up against good late-inning pitchers (or strike out). Saladino on the other had, has a level swing (compared to Ramirez) that doesn’t try to lift and pull everything. He also has a high baseball IQ that is needed in close games, and does the little things better than Ramirez.
All in all, I think if the White Sox are going to win in 2016 they need a shortstop at the bottom of the order who does the little things well. Since Ramirez didn’t produce that much offensively in 2015, I don’t think there will be much of a drop off in that area even if Saladino is not a great offensive player this upcoming season.
Saladino needs to do a couple of things. First, he needs to stabilize the defense at shortstop. Second, and most importantly, come through when it comes to moving runners over (bunting, hitting to the right side) and not swinging for the fence when at the plate.
It is very possible that the White Sox go outside the organization to find their shortstop for 2016, but as of right now Saladino is my choice for the upcoming season.