Can the White Sox use J.B. Shuck in RF if Garcia stumbles?
As of right now, the much maligned Avisail Garcia will be the White Sox starting right fielder on Opening Day. But if Garcia falters, is it possible for J.B. Shuck to take over and perform well?
Shuck is a very good contact hitter, as he rarely strikes out. In 771 career at bats, he has only struck out 89 times, giving him a K-rate of 11.5%. That is extremely low, and considering the fact that Garcia struggles with strike zone discipline (at least early on in his career), it would be an upgrade. While Shuck doesn’t strike out much, he also rarely walks as well. With only 57 career walks, it seems as though Shuck doesn’t wait around at the plate. Shuck doesn’t have an Adam Dunn-like eye, or an Dunn-like whiff either.
One issue with Shuck’s offensive game is that he has next to zero power. Sox fans may remember Juan Pierre, and Shuck’s game may resemble his in some ways. He runs well, makes contact, and rarely drives the ball out of the yard. Given Pierre stole many more bases, made him somewhat of a greater offensive force.
My biggest issue with Shuck is this; While he has great speed, he won’t steal many bases. Considering the fact that Shuck has little power, it is necessary that he causes a disruption on the base paths. Even though he makes consistent contact, it seems as though he has a fairly empty stat line. I realize the fact that Shuck has the ability to hit .290 or so, but keep in mind that he needs to do something else besides that in order to be a productive starting right fielder.
Here is the area where Shuck is a giant upgrade over Garcia: defense. Shuck gives any team he plays for well above average range, not to mention he gets good jumps on the ball. Shuck’s arm is below average for a right fielder, keep in mind Garcia is poor defensive outfielder at this point so Shuck still has an edge in that area. If Shuck is playing right field instead of Garcia, the White Sox defense improve regardless of Shuck’s arm.
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Overall, Shuck is a player that the White Sox cannot count on to be a key to success in 2016. Garcia has to be solid this season, even if it means he gives up too many runs defensively. Garcia is a player that gives you the potential of an impact bat, which is the opposite of what Shuck is. While I understand the Shuck’s floor in 2016 is higher than Garcia’s, Shuck’s ceiling is nowhere near as high. Garcia will be a key player to watch in 2016, and hopefully the new stance that he and hitting coach Todd Steverson are working on will warrant better results, if the new stance doesn’t help, the White Sox should look to Shuck in right field.