By Kyle Johansen @kylejohansen on March 22, 2014
The Chicago White Sox' Opening Day lineup in 2014 will look significantly different than it did a year ago. With newly-acquired players such as Adam Eaton and Jose Abreu, in addition to Avisail Garcia and Paul Konerko’s new role on the bench, the White Sox have begun to rebuild their roster with an eye towards the future. This lineup may also be temporary if Matt Davidson and Marcus Semien prove themselves worthy of a call-up from the minors.
Adam Eaton is a speedy center fielder who will be an ideal leadoff man for the White Sox with his excellent eye at the plate and strong contact skills. Eaton has hit above .300 at every level of the minor leagues and could quickly become a fan favorite.
Alexei Ramirez has remade himself over the past two years, going from a power hitter with moderate stolen base numbers to someone the opposition must account for on the bases. Ramirez has always struck out at a low rate, so his ability to make contact at the plate along with his 50 combined stolen bases over the past two years make him an ideal hitter in the No. 2 hole.
Avisail Garcia was acquired in the Jake Peavy trade a year ago and replaces Alex Rios in right field. Garcia is young, talented, and built like a horse at 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds, but his game still needs some refinement before he reaches his potential offensively. He will strike out a bit too much and does not like to take a walk at the plate.
Jose Abreu is one giant Cuban question mark in the middle of the lineup. He could go off for 30-plus home runs this year, or he may have a season of adjustments as he becomes acclimated with major league pitching. Abreu had eye-popping numbers in Cuba with a great eye at the plate and huge power numbers, including a 1.583 OPS in 2011. Even with a large drop off from those numbers, Abreu should be fun to watch for White Sox fans.
If the White Sox did not dump million into Viciedo's future bank account, he would likely not be the Opening Day starter in left field. However, Viciedo still has unrealized potential in his bat and will likely be given every opportunity to reach his ceiling despite OBPs of .304 and .300, over the last two years to go along with a less-than-inspiring .161 ISO last season.
Adam Dunn will likely open the season at DH as the White Sox will face right-hander Ricky Nolasco when they face the Minnesota Twins on Opening Day. Paul Konerko may get the nod at DH purely based out of respect, but Dunn is likely the better hitter at this point, though many White Sox fans would vehemently argue that fact. Dunn continues to hit for power and take walks at an above average rate.
The White Sox have been waiting on Gordon Beckham to take the next step for longer than anyone would like to admit, and at this point, if Beckham could just be average offensively, the Sox would be thrilled. Since his breakout half-season in 2009, Beckham has failed to reach the .700 OPS mark, which is simply unacceptable.
Conor Gillaspie will have a chance to hold on to third base for just a little while longer as the White Sox refine Matt Davidson’s skills at triple-A. Gillaspie performed admirably in 2013, but the results were still not up to par with an everyday big leaguer as his OPS was a Gordon Beckham-esque .695 on the year with 13 home runs in 452 plate appearances.
Tyler Flowers will get one more chance to hold on to a starting job before the White Sox can find a better option to replace him. Flowers has above-average power and will take his fair share of walks, but his strikeout numbers are even scarier than Adam Dunn’s, if that is even possible. Flowers will be pushed by Josh Phegley in triple-A and possibly by Rule 5 draft pick Adrian Nieto, who has promising minor league numbers.
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