White Sox have many options currently that could be the team’s leadoff hitter for the upcoming season. Which player is the best option for the White Sox?
One facet that the White Sox have certainly improved in from 2018 to 2019 is their depth. The additions of efficient names such as Yonder Alonso and Jon Jay have given manager Rick Renteria a surplus of options heading into the new season.
One of the most important lineup related questions that Renteria will have to address is the question of who will be at the top of it. The leadoff spot is a role that requires a very specific skillset. Us White Sox fans have gotten to see a good amount of talent in the leadoff during the last couple of years.
Here’s how Baseball Reference explained an ideal leadoff man;
"“The first or leadoff hitter should be good at getting on base and preferably a good baserunner as well. He should be willing to watch many pitches so that his teammates get a better chance to see the opposing pitcher’s stuff. It is usually a waste to put a power hitter in the leadoff spot, although there have been notable exceptions”."
Who on the White Sox roster fits this description? Well, there are a few set names of Sox hitters that fill this resumé of a leadoff hitter. In fact, there are a good amount of returners who have manned the leadoff spot for the Pale Hose at some point. In addition, there are newly acquired players coming in that could absolutely hold the role.
So who are the best candidates to man the leadoff spot this upcoming season for the Sox?
Newly acquired Jay has manned the leadoff spot plenty of times for multiple teams in his eight year career. He has always been known for his speed, but it has diminished slightly at this point in his career. However, that does not take away from his ability to hit at the top of the order.
Jay has always been a reliable hitter, especially for those that appreciate putting the ball in play. He has only surpassed the 80 strikeout mark twice in his eight year career, and he put the ball in play in 74 percent of his at bats last year.
Jay has not been a notorious base stealer in his career as he has only stole ten on more bags twice in his career. However, he is extremely reliable on the bases. In his entire eight year career, Jay has only been picked off eight times on the bases. He was picked off just once in 2017, and before that he hadn’t been picked off since 2013.
Jay is looking like he will be most likely to take the leadoff spot, but it is absolutely still up in the air. If Renteria prefers experience and efficiency, however, Jay will likely be leading off.
Moncada may be the most controversial when it comes to the leadoff debate. Although he absolutely has the speed to hit first in the order, other parts of his ability may make it less likely to see.
As the Baseball Reference description of the leadoff hitter explained, power hitters aren’t exactly ideal for the leadoff spot. This may be what jeopardizes Moncada’s chances to hit at the top, given that he has plus power. His power would be better served in the middle part of the order.
He does possess assets that would come in handy to a leadoff hitter, however. He stole 12 bags in 2018 and averaged 4.11 pitches per at bat, a great average for a leadoff hitter. Though Moncada may not be the ideal option to take over the leadoff spot, don’t be surprised to see Renteria pencil him into the number one spot in the order come Opening Day.
As I wrote before, Renteria’s options are much improved versus his first few years with the team. The addition of veterans like Jay give him reliable options not just for the leadoff spot, but for the meat of the order as well.
Aside from those I mentioned, the Sox have others who could take over in the leadoff spot. Guys like Yolmer Sanchez, Adam Engel, and Nicky Delmonico could all also find themselves there. Renteria has the final say, however, and his decision will not be evident until the final weeks of spring training.