What’s the long term plan for Tyler Saladino?
When the White Sox got serious about bringing in an established every day third baseman this offseason (well two technically), it might have helped increase one existing player’s stock immensely. It also might have squeezed that same player out of the teams future plans as an everyday player. That player is Tyler Saladino, the new starting shortstop for the Chicago White Sox heading into 2016. Saladino played all over the infield in 2015, however shortstop is his natural position. Barring a late acquisition, Saladino will likely be the starter at the shortstop position when Opening Day rolls around this April.
Here is why I believe that Saladino will be more valuable at shortstop than he would be at third base. When you compare Saladino’s power to elite third baseman around Major League Baseball, it just doesn’t stack up against the majority. Saladino might be able to hit about 15 home runs in a season, at the maximum given the power he has displayed thus far in his career. When you compare Saladino to the two players that will spend the most time at third this season for the White Sox, Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie, he won’t produce nearly as many runs either.
In baseball the third base position has, and probably always will be a power position per say. For the most part, all of the corner spots are run producing spots on the field, teams always tend to store their power hitters at third base. There are exceptions to this rule, take for example the Kansas City Royals over the last couple of years. However, while not being a huge power source Mike Moustakas will make contact, run well, and play fantastic defense. Most organizations need power hitters at these spots, and the White Sox are no different (given they have question marks at both corner OF spots when it comes to power). A lot of that has to do with the ballpark that they play in, and considering the fact that if they don’t hit home runs consistently, they probably won’t win with the way that this offense is currently built.
Saladino is also going to be at least a solid defensive shortstop, even if his offensive production isn’t up to par. He handled that position well in the short time he played it last year, not to mention the fact that he can run a little bit. I don’t think he will ever be an elite offensive shortstop, however he has the ability to bring a competent bat to that position. I understand that he only hit .225 last season, however he can do the little things well most of the time, he has showed the ability to pick his pitches well, he can run, and is an adequate hitter when asked to bunt and move runners over.
The trade acquisitions of Todd Frazier, and Brett Lawrie definitely impacted Saladino just about as much as any one person could have been. He was effectively eliminated from the teams third base, and even second base plans moving forward. While being moved over to his natural position at shortstop might be seen as a plus, it also puts him on the hot seat with Tim Anderson waiting in the wings to take over the shortstop position.
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All in all, White Sox fans will like Saladino’s style of game. He doesn’t swing for the fence on every pitch, or make dumb plays at key times, and so on. While many White Sox fans are hoping for an Ian Desmond, or Dexter Fowler type acquisition for the team, keep one thing in mind. If the Sox sign one these guys to a two or three-year deal and they bomb, the team is stuck with them. I am not saying that I think Saladino or Avisail Garcia are better players than Desmond or Fowler, just remember that patience is a virtue. I realize it can be difficult for a fan base that hasn’t been to the postseason since 2008, but building a team that can win long-term is the key. Long-term success, not short term is every organizations goal. And it should be what every fan wants as well.