What will the White Sox Opening Day lineup look like on April 3? The South Siders will have an interesting team in 2017, despite rebuilding.
Considering that game action has begun at Camelback Ranch, it makes perfect sense to project a potential lineup for the 2017 Chicago White Sox. Given there are many other options, this would be an ideal Opening Day lineup for the South Siders.
*This is minus the recently released Brett Lawrie.
1. Tim Anderson-SS
While there is no perfect fit for this role, Anderson does make a good deal of sense. He brings speed to the table, indicated by his 10 stolen bases in 99 games played last season. On the flip side he is incredibly impatient, which can be seen by his 13 total walks. An even bigger concern is strikeouts, as he fanned 117 times in 410 at bats, meaning he struggles to make contact. If Anderson can post a batting average of .283 with double digits home runs (he hit 9 in 2016), no one will complain. The question is will he?
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2. Melky Cabrera-LF
This is the perfect kind of player any team would want in the two hole. Cabrera can bunt, switch hit, and can handle the bat very well. An excellent gap to gap hitter, he posted 42 doubles in 2016, which was the second most in his career (hit 44 in 2011). While Cabrera no longer has the speed he once did, he still rarely walks (47 BB’s in 2016) or strikes out (94 career high in ’11), therefore he is perfectly suited for the two spot in any order, more less the White Sox.
3. Jose Abreu-1B
Since Abreu is the best all-around hitter on the roster, he is a no-brainer for this spot. His career batting average is .299, as he has never finished a season with an average below .290, even though he came to Major League Baseball in 2014. Abreu’s run production is very good, indicated by his 100 plus RBI totals in all three seasons in the states. He has the ability to hit the long ball as well, demonstrated by the fact he has never hit less than 25 home runs in a season. Without a doubt, Abreu is the only true number three hitter the White Sox have.
4. Todd Frazier-3B
Due to power that Frazier possesses, it makes perfect sense to put him behind Abreu in the order. Abreu needs protection, which Frazier has the ability to provide. Frazier’s home run totals have increased every season since 2013, as they have jumped all the way from 19 to 40 last season. While he will swing and miss (163 K’s in 2016), putting your best power hitter in the cleanup spot makes sense which is the perfect role for Frazier on the 2017 White Sox.
5. Avisail Garcia-RF
After the first four hitters, the lineup takes a dramatic plunge in terms of production. While very talented, Garcia has never produced at the big league level. However, the Sox have no other real options for this role (double digit home run the last two seasons). Therefore, putting Garcia behind Frazier seems to be the ideal fit.
6. Tyler Saladino-2B
While he is a potential option in the number two hole, Saladino is far too prone to swing and miss (113 K’s in 534 MLB at bats). He does provide speed on the base paths, as he has swiped 19 bags in 161 career games. If Saladino can repeat his performance from last season in the batting average department (.282), there is no question he can be a valuable asset to the Sox lineup in 2017.
7. Omar Narvaez-C
This is where the Sox lineup heads into the territory of the unknown. Since Narvaez has limited experience at the major league level (34 GP), it is difficult to tell if he can repeat a decent 2016 where he hit .267, homered once and knocked in ten men. While all associated with the Sox are hoping he can, if Narvaez fails to he will be relegated to a defense-only catcher.
8. Matt Davidson-DH
While Davidson received much hype as a prospect, it hasn’t translated too much at the big league level. Since he came over to the Sox after the 2013 season, Davidson has only appeared in one game with the big club, where he made two official plate appearances before getting hurt. He does provide power, but a long swing would make him vulnerable to strikeouts. If Davidson shows that he can use his pop at the major league level, he would be the perfect candidate for the five hole behind Todd Frazier.
Both of these players have struggled mightily to stay on the field recently, and in Tilson’s case throughout his whole career in professional baseball. Bourjos has spent a significant amount of time at the big league level, something that Tilson has failed to do (seven seasons for Bourjos, one game for Tilson). Due to their speed, they would be perfect candidates for the nine hole, as they could act as a second leadoff man. Tilson once stole 46 bags in 2015 in Double A, while Bourjos swiped a career-high 22 bags with the Los Angeles Angels in 2011. Neither are likely to produce much, but if they do it will be in the form of speed and defense.
Overall, the Sox lineup is a pretty easy one to face if you are a pitcher. There is one key reason why Saladino not hitting in the number two hole, and it is very simple. You want your best hitters coming to the plate as much as possible, and sliding Cabrera down to the five spot for protection purposes doesn’t help that cause. While Saladino may provide some key skill a second place hitter needs, he fans too much in order to hit there.
Get ready for some terrible lineups this season, Sox fans. Sure hope they get the number one pick!