Although Spring Training is an important time of the year for all MLB teams, with just about a week until Opening Day, most baseball fans can’t wait for camp to be over and the regular season to begin. Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura seems as if he too is getting excited to start the 2013 regular season, as he recently indicated how the middle of the White Sox lineup will look to start the year.
Surprisingly, to me at least, Ventura will bat Paul Konerko fifth, and have Alex Rios hit third followed by Adam Dunn in the cleanup spot. While I love seeing Rios get a chance to bat third, having Dunn hit fourth instead of Konerko is somewhat shocking to me.
There is no doubt Dunn is one of the game’s top homerun hitters, but having him hit fourth doesn’t make much sense and here’s why. In most cases, you want your fourth hitter to be a guy who hits well with runners in scoring position, can come through in the clutch when there are two outs and hit for a high average during the 1st inning of a game.
With this in mind, last year Dunn hit .212 with runners in scoring position, batted .160 when there were two outs and hit .262 in the 1st inning.
Konerko on the other hand hit .285 with runners in scoring position, batted .271 with two outs and during the 1st inning hit .287.
In each category, Konerko out preformed Dunn in 2012. While there are many other statistics you can look at when evaluating a hitter, these three are crucial when dissecting a cleanup hitter.
For the White Sox offense to fire on all cylinders, I believe Ventura has to switch Dunn and Konerko in the lineup. Dunn may have more power than Konerko, but Konerko provides the South Siders with more efficient at-bats with runners aboard. Ventura did mention that this lineup is subject to change, so let’s just hope the change comes sooner rather than later.