The Chicago White Sox have improved their lineup this offseason, on paper at least without a doubt. But if they add one more hitter, could it be a legitimate top-tier offense? Considering the fact that they have Jose Abreu and Todd Frazier batting third/fourth in the lineup as of right now, do they need another hitter at the top? Or what about another bat in the middle of the lineup?
With Abreu and Frazier coming up in the middle of the order, one would want as many men on base as possible. As it stands right now, Adam Eaton and Melky Cabrera will be batting in front of them. Would the offense improve if the White Sox signed Dexter Fowler? Assuming that happened, Cabrera would slide down in the order, giving Frazier protection behind him with Cabrera in the fifth spot.
On the other hand, the Sox could go out and grab a middle of the order bat. Andre Ethier has been rumored to be on the market, and could give the Sox some balance in the heart of the order. With Abreu and Frazier, they have two right-handed bats. Ethier would give them a left-handed stick, however he struggles mightily against left-handed pitching. Would that mean Avi Garcia could platoon with him? Given the outfield defense would struggle in a big way with Garcia in the field, but he should be able to hit left-handed pitching with better success than Ethier if that was the case.
Another option that the White Sox can explore would be Austin Jackson. Jackson bats right-handed, and would also bat at the top of the order. One problem with Jackson is that his OBP is not nearly as high as Fowler’s, but his range defensively is much better. Would Jackson save more runs than Fowler would create? Fowler may get on base more, but he is a well below average center-fielder. Jackson could save runs defensively, not to mention at least be a solid #2 hitter. Probably not as good as Fowler would be in that same spot, but still pretty serviceable. One last option that the White Sox could look to prior to the start of the season is Ian Desmond. However, he makes too many errors and strikes out at a high rate which makes him my least favorite option.
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All in all, the White Sox have some decisions to make when it comes to their offense. They have some free agent and trade options to look over before opening day, not to mention I would not be against them bolstering the starting staff. While I think that Erik Johnson and Jacob Turner have potential, neither are top-3 caliber starters in a major league rotation. Mat Latos might be an option, and if he is 100% healthy he could really help out the White Sox rotation. Personally I still think this lineup needs one more bat, to be truly intimidating to the rival American League Central opponents, and I would prefer Fowler over the bunch. Abreu and Frazier need men on base in front of them, and if Eaton and Fowler do their jobs the Sox should score a good amount of runs. Melky Cabrera is a solid number two hitter, so I guess that if the Sox could stay put on their current roster I wouldn’t be too disappointed, but I really think they need an upgrade in the outfield or shortstop before opening day. If not, expect another mediocre season Sox fans.