Projecting the Chicago White Sox Opening Day lineup

The White Sox Opening Day lineup projection originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The White Sox have rigged and reshuffled their roster since the start of the offseason.

They have lost names like José Abreu, and have added others like Andrés Benintendi. The hope is to regain momentum and prepare for a deep playoff run, improving on their last two playoff appearances, which ended with a first-round exit.

With new and old names recirculating the roster, who will start Opening Day against the Houston Astros?

Here’s a projection of the Opening Day lineup by position, sorted by the team’s projected batting order.

Anderson last season played in the fewest games (79 games) he has seen in a season since his rookie year, not counting the 49 games he played during the abbreviated 2020 season.

Surgery on a sagittal band tear in his left middle finger forced him out from early August through the remainder of the season.

Catcher Yasmani Grandal admitted on the White Sox Talk podcast that losing Anderson was the knockout blow to the White Sox’s season.

“The biggest hit we had was when TA went down because he’s our guy,” Grandal said of Anderson. “I know it was a big punch to the stomach because (as) TA leaves, we leave. I think it’s been that way for years. As soon as she got hurt, she was like, man, that’s the knockout.”

Anderson will return to his regular spot as leadoff hitter in 2023.

Left field – Andrew Benintendi

Benintendi signed the franchise’s most lucrative contract this offseason to the tune of five years and $75 million.

Throughout his seven-year career, he has sported an impressive defensive run save (DRS) value with 32 scoring runs. He’s a brick wall in left field and puts a Band-Aid on the White Sox’ longstanding problem of defensive weakness in the corner outfield.

At the plate, he’s a respectable hitter, posting a career slash line of .279/.351/.431 and averaging close to 17 home runs per season from 2017-21. Last season, he struggled, hitting just five home runs.

However, if you take his numbers from the 93 games he played in Kansas City, he could argue as one of the best hitters on the team, earning himself the coveted No. 2 spot in the batting order.

Like most starters last season, Robert struggled to stay healthy. Late in the season, he suffered a visible wrist injury that left him hitting one-handed. Even so, he slashed a respectable .284/.319/.426 in 2022.

Hitting Robert one spot below Benintendi makes sense for his well-above-average slugging percentage, which sits at .474 for his career. Side note: His on-base plus slugging percentage sits above .800 for his auspicious young career.

Designated Hitter – Eloy Jimenez

Jimenez has played over 100 games in a season once in his career. The last time he played more than 100 games in a season was in 2019, his debut year. Injuries have been the kryptonite of his promising career.

The current fifth-year mentioned that he aspires to play right field more often than the designated hitter spot, explaining that he has only done so due to injuries. But, Pedro Grifol expressed in an interview with 670 the Score that he has plans for Jiménez to play more often at DH.

“I’m really getting ready to play the outfield,” Jimenez said. “No more DH than outfield.”

MORE: Pedro Grifol explains White Sox plans for right field

Jiménez’s main priority will be to clean up the fourth spot in the lineup.

Third Base – Yoán Moncada

Moncada, like Anderson, missed the most games in a season he has seen in the last five years, though he also ruled out the 2020 season. He played in 104 games in 2022, enduring one of the worst seasons at the plate ever. his career.

He slashed .212/.273/.353 from the plate and had 12 home runs and 84 hits. Moncada hasn’t recorded fewer than 100 hits in a full season since 2017. Fortunately, on the defensive end, he posted his second straight season with positive defensive runs saved (DRS), giving him the corner inside position. of the box a positive value of 2 runs. .

Improvement at the plate is a must for Moncada in 2023. It starts by slipping him to fifth in the batting order.

First base – Andrew Vaughn

During the offseason, nine-year veteran José Abreu entered free agency and signed a three-year, $50 million contract with the Houston Astros.

In turn, the Sox will look to third-year slugger Andrew Vaughn to replace players like Abreu at first base, Vaughn’s natural position. But, of the 261 games he has played for the White Sox, he has played there 38 times.

Most of Vaughn’s defensive work has come in the outfield, a position that Rick Hahn pointed out isn’t organic for Vaughn. The White Sox will get a fair assessment of their defensive capabilities this season.

Vaughn also has one of the best bats on the team, slashing .271/.321/.429 last season with 17 home runs and 76 RBIs. Despite the loss of a perennially successful hitter and irreplaceable clubhouse leader in Abreu, Vaughn should serve as a perfect transition at first base.

Placing him in a second cleanup spot makes him a formidable second half of the lineup.

Receiver – Yasmani Grandal

On both sides of the ball, Yasmani Grandal posted one of the least productive years of his career last season.

Burdened by bulging discs in his back, which he chose not to have surgery on, Grandal’s power waned significantly last season. In 2021, his average exit velocity was pegged at 93.1 miles per hour, putting him in the top four percent of the league. Last season, he dropped to 90 mph, which dropped him to the 69th percentile in the MLB.

This offseason, he’s training vigorously seven times a week, as he detailed on the White Sox Talk podcast.

“That’s why I’ve been going seven days a week. We play seven days a week,” Grandal said. “I’ve always had this mindset that the receiver has to be the best-trained guy on the field because we’re pretty much doing the hardest job in our game. We’re crouching and moving all the time.” time. That is why I have developed this regimen.”

Hopefully, Grandal can get back to his normal production and scare pitchers near the bottom of the lineup.

Right Field – Óscar Colás

Despite Jiménez’s recent wishes to claim a bet on the spare corner in the outfield, Grifol made it clear in an interview with 670 the Score that Colás will take “every opportunity” to become the team’s regular right fielder.

MORE: Oscar Colas will have the opportunity to win the position of RF of the White Sox

In 2022, Colás jumped through all three minor league hoops, making seven games at Triple-A before the season ended. In all three divisions, he slashed .314/.371/.524, which underscores his ability as a power hitter and diversifies the lineup as a left-hander.

If he is placed in the lineup on opening day, hiding him near the bottom is the best answer given that he hasn’t made his MLB debut yet.

Second Base – Romy González

One of the biggest question marks this offseason is at second base.

The White Sox parted ways with several midfielders this offseason: Elvis Andrus, Danny Mendick and Josh Harrison. However, the White Sox recently expressed interest in trading Kansas City Royals infielder Nicky Lopez to help close the gap at second base.

MORE: Report: White Sox ‘interested’ in Royals infielder

If the South Side executes a trade for Lopez, without giving up valuable assets, the move should serve as a useful addition to the team’s lineup. Without an outside solution, the second base title is in the hands of Romy González.

Gonzalez, as of this writing, is the most likely Opening Day starter, which would put him ninth in the batting order.

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