White Sox First Half Player Grades: Infielders
White Sox conclude first half at 45-43, and are still in contention for playoffs. SouthSide Showdown grades each group of players for the first half. This article will focus on the infielders.
The White Sox entered the 2016 season with nearly an entirely different infield from 2015. With the only holdovers being first baseman Jose Abreu, and utility infielder Tyler Saladino, the White Sox would have new infielders at second base, short stop and third base for 2016.
After another failed season in which the White Sox missed the playoffs and finished below .500, it was time for the team to make moves in its infield. It started with the acquisition of Brett Lawrie from the Oakland Athletics on December 9, 2015. The move at the time looked like the White Sox had fixed its problem at third base as Lawrie had experience playing that position with the Athletics and Toronto Blue Jays. However, the White Sox weren’t done changing its infield for 2016.
On December 16, 2015, Todd Frazier was part of a three-team trade that included the White Sox, Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers. Frazier was the only player sent to the White Sox in a trade that saw Chicago give up Frankie Montas, Micah Johnson and Trayce Thompson to the Dodgers. With the trade, the White Sox got what they believed was the best third baseman the team would have since Joe Crede.
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The White Sox didn’t go after free agent shortstop Ian Desmond as he had a 2016 unprotected draft pick going to the Washington Nationals if he signed. The White Sox didn’t pick up the $10 million option for Alexei Ramirez after the 2015 season, and it appeared they were set with Tyler Saladino being the team’s starting shortstop to begin the season. However, the White Sox signed veteran Jimmy Rollins to a minor league deal during spring training.
Rollins was able to make the team out of spring training, and Saladino would be relegated to coming off the bench. At the All-Star break, Rollins is the only player not currently with the team as he was designated for assignment on June 10 to make way for shortstop Tim Anderson.
With the White Sox players enjoying the All-Star break, its time to reflect on the first half and grade players on their performances to this point. The White Sox are still in contention for one of the two Wild Card spots, and if they hope to have an impressive second half, they will need solid contributions on offense from their infielders.
Jose Abreu, First Baseman: B-
Abreu isn’t having his best season at the plate for the White Sox this season. Despite appearing in 83 games at first base this season, Abreu got off to a slow start offensively and is just starting to appear to be turning the corner. After a three-hit game in a loss to the Atlanta Braves on Sunday, Abreu finished the the first half with a slash line of .272/.326/.430 with 11 home runs and 52 runs batted in. Abreu was hitting as low as .176 on April 25 but has been solid offensively in his last 30 games. In that span, Abreu has hit .319 with four home runs and 22 runs batted in. The White Sox will need this type of production from Abreu in the second half in order to remain in contention.
Brett Lawrie. Second Baseman: C+
This season with the White Sox, Lawrie has appeared in 87 games and at the All-Star break is hitting .257 with 11 home runs and 35 runs batted in. Lawrie isn’t the best defensive second baseman, but he has brought noticeable energy to the White Sox dugout and leads the team with 22 doubles. Lawrie is hitting .386 in his last 15 games, and the White Sox could certainly benefit from the native Canadian hitting more doubles in the second half.
Tim Anderson, Shortstop: A-
The White Sox needed a spark offensively as they began June. With Rollins showing he was past his prime, the White Sox would promote one of its top prospects in Anderson. Since his promotion, Anderson is hitting .304 with 14 multi-hit games. The young shortstop began his career with the White Sox hitting ninth, but was inserted into the leadoff hitter in his fourth game of the season. The White Sox offense has been better with him leading off, and Anderson has also been stellar defensively since his arrival. One of the biggest criticism from scouts on Anderson was his defense, but he’s been quieting doubters with spectacular plays at shortstop and displaying tremendous range. Anderson has committed only one error in 28 games, and the White Sox will rely on him to continue contributing after the All-Star break.
Todd Frazier, Third baseman: C
Frazier arrived to the White Sox with a lot of fanfare, and with good reason. Not only was the veteran third baseman a beloved player with the Reds, he looked like he would become the White Sox best third baseman since Joe Crede. Frazier got off to a slow start offensively but still slugged 25 home runs in the first half. Despite his low batting average of .213, Frazier leads the White Sox with 57 runs batted in. Frazier isn’t a player that will hit for a high batting average as his career batting average is .252, but this is the lowest his average has been at any point of his career before an All-Star break. Frazier will need to hit better in the second half, and hopefully his participation in the Home Run Derby on Monday won’t have a negative effect on his offense moving forward.
Tyler Saladino, Utility Infielder: C+
Saladino has been solid this season with limited playing time for the White Sox. With starts at short stop and third base, Saladino has shown he can play either position for the White Sox with ease. Saladino is hitting .250 for the season, and should see more playing time in the second half when either Anderson or Frazier need a break in the field.
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Overall Grade: B-
The White Sox current infield is much better than it was at the same time last season. However, they will need each player to remain consistent in the second half. If they can, the White Sox could very well find itself in the postseason.