How will Brett Lawrie handle the move to second base in 2016?
By Brian Draus
Many have talked about Brett Lawrie’s skills at third base. But, could he actually be more valuable at second base?
Assuming he is the White Sox starter at second base on Opening Day, he may have the strongest arm at that position in baseball. If you look at his defensive highlights, he has a plus arm at third base. Now, if you want to translate that over to second base he has an elite arm. During Sox broadcasts, Hawk Harrelson would often talk about the arm strength of Gordon Beckham. Lawrie’s arm is much stronger than Beckham’s, which is key in turning double plays and making plays up in the middle.
Lawrie is also a very athletic player, therefore it shouldn’t be too much of an issue when it comes to his range. If Lawrie were a statue at third base, then it would be a major issue when it comes to transitioning to second base. However, he is not, which should make the transition go in a smooth fashion.
One big key to this whole equation is his bat. There are not many second baseman in the majors who have the ability to hit 20 plus home runs. I understand he is probably still going to be about a .280-.290 hitter max (more likely around .250-.260), but his run production ability is well above average. One major concern with his bat: BB/K rate. Lawrie’s BB/K rate was 28/144 in 2015, which is dreadful.
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Here is the whole dilemma with Lawrie, that being injuries. Outside of 2015, he has never played more than 125 games in a season (played 149 games in 2015). Even with all of his aforementioned abilities, if he isn’t on the field, it doesn’t really matter. Hopefully playing for the White Sox (who have a great track record of keeping players healthy), not to mention the fact that there are no teams with indoor stadiums in the A.L. Central will help that considerably.
Outside of the injuries, Lawrie has one other major flaw: his temper. He has an issue rubbing teammates the wrong way, not to mention he has gone off on a few umpires. One more concern with his temper is that he could get the White Sox into a potential brawl. His series with the Kansas City Royals last April is much noted, and the White Sox do play them 18 times per year.
Overall, I like the addition of Lawrie. Even though he has been accused of a lot of things on the field (bad attitude, injuries, etc.), he will give it everything he has on any given day. I think that a little bit of fire will help the White Sox, and is something they have been sorely lacking over the past few years. While his health status will always be a question mark, one thing is certain: expect high energy from Lawrie. And hopefully, a big improvement at second base in 2016.