What is the most important spot in a lineup? Most people either respond with the leadoff hitter or the cleanup hitter. The most overlooked spot in a batting order is the third place hitter. While the cleanup hitter allows the third place hitter a chance to see a pitcher’s best, it is not a guarantee that they will execute.
For the past few years, the Chicago White Sox have struggled to find a hitter who could hit third and contribute on a consistent basis. Adam Dunn would be penciled in there and his strikeouts would kill momentum that hitters in front of him would start. Paul Konerko would not see many pitches to hit because opponents would rather take their chance with the ever-struggling Dunn.
In 2014 however, the Sox have found a guy who could hit in that spot and has produced consistently so far this season.
Conor Gillaspie was moved from the bottom third to the top at the beginning of the year and has flourished. After Adam Eaton and Marcus Semien get on and cause havoc on the basepaths, Gillaspie is able to move them over. The Sox offense is following the simple teaching of “get them on, get them over, get them in” because of Gillaspie. His nine RBIs so far proves this point.
He is driving the ball to all fields and is placing the ball where the fielders are not. If one was to predict that the third baseman would have a slash of .342/.400/.447 at any time this season, no one would believe them.
Not much was expected out of Gillaspie this season. All the talk about the third base position centered around whether Matt Davidson would make the ball club or not. Before Jeff Keppinger went down with an injury, it was believed that Gillaspie would be a part of a platoon at the hot corner. Not in anyone’s wildest dreams was it thought that former San Francisco Giants castoff would strive offensively the way he has so far in 2014.
With a fresh approach at the plate and a mindset that the starting third base position is sole his, Gillaspie has gained more confident every game. If the White Sox are going to shock the world and compete all season, they need Gillaspie to continue making noise with his bat.
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