Jake Burger adds depth the Chicago White Sox desperately need
By Chip Egan
If Jake Burger hasn't proven by now that he belongs on the Chicago White Sox roster, he might never be able to prove it.
Burger has been a bright spot in what has been a very underwhelming start by the Southsiders. His offensive production in a short time frame has been something the team has desperately been in need of.
As a result, it should be what keeps him on the parent club once the likes of Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada return from injuries that have put them on the shelf.
Since being called up earlier this month following the loss of Eloy Jimenez to a hamstring injury, Burger has been on a tear displaying power at the plate the team has been sorely lacking for over a year.
In 11 games, Burger has belted 5 home runs, tying him with Luis Robert Jr. for most on the team, while also tying him for both fifth in the American League and ninth overall in the Major Leagues.
The Chicago White Sox need Jake Burger on the roster going forward.
He is also responsible for the second and sixth hardest-hit balls so far here in the early going, drilling them by marks of 118.2 and 116.5 miles per hour.
Just as impressive has been his overall offensive output. Burger's 10 runs batted in are good enough for third-best on the team but his slash line of .276/.353/.862 has combined to put together an outstanding on-base plus slugging percentage of 1.215.
Those are very impressive numbers, especially in the home run category. Last season, the White Sox were led by Andrew Vaughn's 17 long balls and the team has not shown much in the way of going deep again this year.
Heading into their series with Tampa Bay, the White Sox have managed just 19 homers, 10 of which have come from Burger and Robert Jr. Outside of that duo, no one has more than Moncada's two.
The question of whether or not Burger should be with the team when Moncada-who Burger has filled in for at third base-should be moot. He has more than proven his worth (at least offensively) to the team, especially since the White Sox have a depth and power problem.
There are enough (perhaps too many) first base/designated hitters on the team. However, what makes Burger valuable is his ability to hit the long ball.
Burger has played just 77 total games and had 235 at-bats in his three years, yet he has 14 homers. Span that out over the course of a full 162 games and Burger projects to be a 30-home run hitter, something the White Sox could use.
Defensively, Burger is limited and he does strike out a lot.
However, his offensive power is something that could provide a boost to the lineup that did start off strong but has tailed off of late.
How the White Sox will use Burger once Moncada returns remains to be seen. Any number of things could happen, including moving him or another of the bench bats to another team in a trade.
Burger has a hot bat right now and if he can keep it up, manager Pedro Grifol will be hard-pressed to keep him out of the lineup not just now but in the future.