White Sox 2019 Season Preview: Infielders Analysis
First Base – José Abreu, Yonder Alonso
José Abreu and Yonder Alonso will primarily make the up 1B/DH spots in the lineup, with Abreu getting most of the starts at first.
Ever since he broke out in the league in 2014, Abreu has consistently produced the most offensively. With a career slash of .295/.353/.516 and an OPS of .869 with 146 home runs, the two-time All-Star is considered to be one of the best first basemen in the American League.
Last season, however, was a bit of an off year. He hit only .265 with only 78 RBIs and 22 home runs. All three of those stats were career lows for Abreu. A positive to take from his 2018, however, was his career low 109 strikeouts and second highest amount of doubles at 36. He also was selected to his second All-Star appearance and he won the Silver Slugger Award.
He did miss some time due to an infection on his leg during the late part of the season, but that should not slow down Abreu going into 2019. And he showed it has not when he hit .323 with four home runs in 70 plate appearances this Spring. Six of his 21 hits were doubles. He slugged .600 and drove in 18 runs. He could very well be the team’s 2019 MVP.
Abreu seems to be ready for 2019 and his third All-Star Game appearance.
A case could be made that the main reason Yonder Alonso was signed was to draw the attention of Machado, but in actuality, the team needed a player like him.
In previous years, the 1B/DH role has been filled by names like Adam Dunn and Adam LaRoche. Matt Davidson and Daniel Palka sort of split that role last season, but Davidson primarily played third and Palka in the outfield. Alonso gives Palka the opportunity to play more in right field and give Abreu that off day ever so often.
Last season with the Indians, Alonso hit .250 with 23 home runs and 83 RBIs. He had an OBP of .317 and 51 walks. He also played his third highest amount of games, 145 compared to 156 in 2016 and 155 in 2012. If Alonso can bring those type of numbers with him to the south side, it will be very exciting.
Despite this, it will be very hard for Alonso to break the mold many have put him in. Many say he is only on the team because the Sox wanted Machado. Alonso will have to do better than .250 with 23 home runs and 83 RBIs. He will have to do better than the 8.9 percent walk rate and 21.4 percent strikeout rate. He will have to prove he is more than just Machado’s brother-in-law.