In baseball, it is always beneficial to learn from one’s mistakes. The Chicago White Sox showed that they learned from past failures when they optioned third baseman of the future Matt Davidson to AAA earlier today. Davidson, acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Addison Reed trade, displayed this Spring Training that while he has potential, he still needs additional work in the minors.
In 39 at-bats this spring, Davidson’s slash of .308/.341/.564 gave the White Sox brass assurance that they made the right move this winter. After struggling in the opening weeks of camp, Davidson has found a better approach at the plate. He has been more disciplined in the box, not chasing at junk out of the zone. His seven strikeouts in 41 plate appearances are a telling sign of his improvement at seeing the ball and waiting for his pitch.
Over the past two years, the White Sox have struggled with finding a third baseman that can get on base. It was well-documented in 2012 how the Sox had the lowest OBP of any team at that position. Davidson’s .341 OBP gives the White Sox hope that they have solved that issue for the long term. As an added bonus offensively, the California native has showcased his pop by blasting two no doubt home runs this spring. The 22 year old’s defense has also been impressive this spring. Davidson has show his knack for being able to handle shots that come his way at the hot corner.
With Davidson giving the White Sox brass all the reason to place him on the Opening Day roster, why would it make sense to send him to the minors? Two words — Josh Fields.
Fields was deemed as the team’s future third baseman back in 2006 when Joe Crede‘s back began to give out. In 2007, during a 72-90 season, the White Sox promoted Fields and labeled him the everyday third baseman. The former Oklahoma State University quarterback blasted 23 home runs while making White Sox fans forget about Crede’s defensive wizard-er due to his own dominance with the glove. Fields gave Sox nation hope that when Crede moved on, they still had their future at third.
One of the issues with Fields after 2007 was that he would try to do too much. In 2008, the last time the White Sox made the playoffs, Fields played only 14 games in the majors, hitting an Adam Dunn-like .156. Clearly Fields lost that edge he had in 2007 when minuscule pressure surrounded the team. His confidence was rattled as he started not living up to his rookie numbers. People began to question why the White Sox did not start Fields in the majors right away that season. Fingers were pointed at then manager Ozzie Guillen for not finding more playing time for Fields. In Ozzie’s defense, there just weren’t that many at-bats to go around. Guillen had Crede as the starting third baseman and needed to find time for backup Juan Uribe.
Heading into 2014, the White Sox are once again faced with an enormous clutter at third. Jeff Keppinger, whom the White Sox invested $4 million in this year, and Conor Gillaspie are in greater need for at-bats than Davidson. Even with Keppinger possibly injured to start the season, it only makes sense to have Davidson accumulate regular plate appearances in the minors. That way, he can continue to fix the flaws in his game and arrive back in the majors as a completely polished player. The White Sox cannot afford another long-term set back at third base. Sending Davidson back to the minors is a step in assuring that does not happen again.
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