There is a shortage in confidence this year in the Chicago White Sox. That’s a given, considering they traded away their foundation in favor of the rebuild. However, in the midst of spring training, a look at the Sox performance thus far might counter the current interpretation of the team. Sure, it’s spring training. But baseball is baseball. When you hit consistently, you get hot. When you are hot consistently, you become highly regarded. And you become highly regarded, you get payed. And when you get payed, you’re considered a superstar. It’s just how the game is nowadays.
With that being said, a considerable amount of Sox are enjoying great spring seasons to this point. From some of them, it’s expected. From others, however, it can mean the beginning of the journey to the light at the end of the tunnel. Far fetched? Maybe. Spring training is far off the realm from the real competition of the Major League Baseball regular season. Regardless, the success can’t be ignored.
So what does this success mean?
It can mean a couple of different things. Either these major league players are doing what they should and sabotaging these young inexperienced pitchers, or they’ve figured something out. It can really go either way. Like I said before, the majority of current superstars had their success aided by a hot streak. The potential of this White Sox lineup is through the roof as multiple players are candidates to be the next breakout. Regardless, it all starts with success. Can spring training success apply? What does it REALLY mean?
If you’ve been consistently watching the Cactus League action, you probably know that Sally is on a tear. His current ceiling for this team is likely the go-to backup infielder. He can play anywhere from third to second. He’s always had a respectable bat, but what he’s doing so far in Spring Training can’t be ignored. Through 11 games, he’s batting .414 (12-for-29) with three homers and eight runs batted in. Regardless of whether it’s October or March, these numbers beat the expectation for a backup infielder. Especially one that weighs 200 pounds.
He’s came out and made it clear that he wants to win the second base job. With the departure of Brett Lawrie, the spring struggles of Yoan Moncada, and of course his exceptional personal success, the chances of that are looking very good. Prior to spring training, that would not have been a popular opinion. Everyone wants to see the phenom Moncada play everyday in manager Rick Renteria’s lineup. However, there is no arguing that Saladino hasn’t hit his way into that role thus far. There’s a lot of time left, and Sally is one to keep an eye on. He’s been eclipsed his entire career. Yet, I believe now is his time.
Any White Sox fans who have seen Garcia’s success in this years spring training is probably telling themselves to not get their hopes up. Avi does this to us Sox faithful a lot. One week, he’s a double machine and he seems like the guy a pitcher does not want to face. The next week, he’s batting sub .200 and striking out way too much in the process. As high standard Sox fans, we lose faith pretty quickly. Luckily for Avi, a nice, consistent outbreak of hitting will earn our love right back. He’s on the right track as of right now, tearing up the Cactus League. Through March 14th, he’s batting .433 (13-for-30) with two doubles and one home run. Given his career struggles, a .258 career average, this is a nice start.
It may be spring training, but it’s still a start. A sign. A piece of hope for the Sox. It’s also worth noting that his career spring training average sits at .297. Going strictly off of spring statistics, it’s an improvement. After all of the disappointment Garcia has been the source of in the last few years, any type of improvement is welcomed. One of his biggest weaknesses throughout his career has been his vulnerability to the strikeout. He has struck out six times in 30 at-bats so far, 20% of his at-bats. It’s an improvement from his roughly career 27% strikeout percentage, yet not much. Especially considering the current competition on the mound is nowhere comparable to that of the MLB, for the most part. Another weakness is his ability to draw walks. He has walked just twice in spring training, 7% of his at-bats. His career mark, 96 walks in 1551 at-bats, comes in at 6%.
Leury Garcia is one of the most forgotten players in the entire White Sox organization. He hasn’t necessarily given a reason for it to be any other way with a .188 career batting average. However, we’re talking about a guy who once drew comparisons to Rafael Furcal. He came over in the Alex Rios trade and at first had high anticipations. Like all other long-tenured Sox minor leaguers, he has been forgotten. He has used this spring to show what he can offer. In 34 at-bats, the 5’8 Garcia he is hitting .382 with eight runs batted in. The speedy utility man has rejuvenated his chances of making the club, and in a year of rebuilding, he just might.
In terms of chances to make the team, Garcia has a unique case. He has always been noted as a defensive specialist. His defense is the only thing that will always be there. His .967 fielding percentage is proof of that. Like I said before, however, he has a career .188 batting average. If he can even hit around .240 or .250, he can be a very valuable asset. Cheap, expendable, and versatile, Garcia is the type of player that any team in a rebuild would love to have. However, his success must continue. Considering he has spent the majority facing minor league pitchers in the minor leagues, he is doing much of the same now. At a time where spring training is long shot minor leaguer pitcher heavy, Garcia is showing out by hitting .382. In the minors his average typically sits around the upper .200s. Therefore, his performance in spring training is not something to overlook. I believe it means something, which could mean great things for the Sox.
What to look for now…
As spring training winds down, do not limit the analyzation to these players. There are many more who are right on the bubble in terms of success. A downfall of one of the above players could result in the magnifying glass moving to another. Tim Anderson, Peter Bourjos, and Omar Narvaez are also enjoying great springs. Where it truly gets exciting is the conclusion. After a couple cut deadlines, spring will be the closest comparison to the regular season. Averages will diminish, and chances will fade in exchange for the regular season. Will the success of these noted players continue on an upward spiral? Will they diminish? The only way to know is by observing. That’s when the question will be answered. The question of “should spring success be taken seriously?”.