As part of our continuing Chicago White Sox spring training 2016 coverage at Southside Showdown by FanSided we profile newly acquired infielder Brett Lawrie.
On the one year anniversary of the Jeff Samardzija trade with the Oakland Athletics in December of 2014, the Athletics and White Sox once again struck a deal, this time sending Canadian slugger Brett Lawrie to Chicago in return for a pair of pitching prospects. In return for Lawrie the Athletics received minor league pitchers Zack Erwin and J.B. Wendelken.
As 26 year-old Brett Lawrie prepares to play for his third different team in as many seasons, what can Lawrie provide for the White Sox? Lawrie when healthy has been productive, and shown the potential to be a solid everyday starter. Lawrie missed the majority of the 2014 season, his last in Toronto with a variety of injuries including a fractured finger that he suffered after being hit by a pitch, as well as a strained oblique that ended his season in August of 2014. That was the last of Lawrie in Toronto, who was dealt in the offseason to the Athletics for third-basemen Josh Donaldson. While Lawrie’s return in 2015 was no where near as impressive as the season that Josh Donaldson had in Toronto as he slugged his way to the 2015 American League Most Valuable Player Award. None the less Lawrie had a solid bounce back season playing in 149 games in 2015, while producing respectable numbers in Oakland.
The major question that fans have had about Lawrie has always been whether or not he can make the jump from a “good” player, to an exceptional player? Hindered by injuries and now discontent with being traded twice over three seasons Lawrie has to have an impact season in 2016.
Offensively Lawrie has increased his numbers in almost all categories in each of his first five seasons, with the exception of his career best .293 BA in his rookie year of 2011 where he played in only 43 games for the Blue Jays. Last season he hit for a .260 BA with 16 home runs, 60 RBIs, and 29 doubles on a mediocre at best Athletics team. The numbers are not quite where we want or necessarily expect them to be to this point, but the continued progression creates the optimism that the best is yet to come with Lawrie as a hitter.
Defensively Lawrie has been average at best at third base throughout his first five seasons in the big leagues. Lawrie has 53 errors in 441 games at the hot corner thus far, and a .956 FLD%. The positive thing is that with the acquisition of third-basemen Todd Frazier this winter, Lawrie is slotted to make the transition to a full-time second-basemen in 2016. Even at second base Lawrie has 10 errors in 80 games over parts of three seasons, leaving him with a .972 FLD%. I will give him the benefit of the doubt that after further adjusting to the second base position Lawrie will have better numbers moving forward as the everyday second-basemen for the White Sox.
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Overall I believe that if Lawrie can remain healthy he will be a solid second-basemen moving forward for the White Sox. His offensive production thus far leaves us with the belief that his production will increase this season, and hitting in a hitter friendly ballpark such as U.S. Cellular Field should definitely help him achieve that. As well he will likely be slotted in the number two spot, or lower than the clean-up spot in the White Sox lineup to start the season, which should take some pressure to produce big power numbers off of him. White Sox fans are going to love Lawrie, he is the type of player that south-siders love. He is social with the fans, and he plays the game hard everyday. I’m looking forward to seeing Lawrie thrive in a fresh start in 2016.