We’re already under two weeks away from Opening Day for the White Sox in Los Angeles when they take on the Angels, and we get our first look at how Tony LaRussa lines up his talented, young squad that has legitimate World Series aspirations.
With that said, we here at Fully Krausened thought it be wise to take a half-baked look at how LaRussa might set up his batting order. Without further ado, here goes:
1 Tim Anderson – SS
2 Yoan Moncada – 3B
3 Yasmani Grandal – C
4 Jose Abreu – 1B
5 Luis Robert – CF
6 Eloy Jimenez – LF
7 Andrew Vaughn – DH
8 Adam Eaton – RF
9 Nick Madrigal – 2B
SP Lucas Giolito
We know Giolito will get the start on the mound, but this seems like the most likely set up. It’s possible that Robert and Jimenez are flip-flopped, and they could do so throughout the season, depending on who is hot and who isn’t.
For me, I like Robert ahead of Jimenez, as he has more speed and can get himself into scoring position for Jimenez coming after him. Grandal still gets the 3 spot, even with coming off what he considered a sub-par 2020 season, offensively. He’ll have plenty of protection behind him with Abreu, Robert and Jimenez waiting in the wings.
I like Eaton and Madrigal in the 8 and 9 holes as speedsters and high on-base-percentage guys (I can see Madrigal having a higher OBP than Eaton) to set the table for the top of the order. Both have the potential to steal bases too, and put pressure on the defense.
Moncada had a breakout 2019 season, but never felt quite right after dealing with the aftereffects of his COVID-19 diagnosis. He’s feeling good in camp this spring and could be a significant piece of the puzzle in 2021, and his ability to hit from both sides of the plate makes it tough to match up late in games, and the Sox could use some improvement hitting against right-handed pitching.
The wild card in this lineup is rookie DH Andrew Vaughn. He’s all but certain to be the Opening Day DH unless they mess with his service time and have Zack Collins DH for the first few weeks. He hasn’t played above A-ball and the pandemic wiped his 2020 minor league season out entirely. The good news out of Glendale is he’s been crushing the ball in Spring Training. How he does in regular season games for a team that aspires to win a World Series title this season is a wholly different test.
Even if Vaughn struggles, which is likely throughout an entire 162 game season, there should be enough depth to overcome that. Adam Engel, who has been crushing the ball in Spring Training, can spell anyone in the outfield, and there wouldn’t be much of a drop-off offensively.
Zack Collins has had his struggles at the plate in the big leagues, but a breakout season from him could help spell Grandal when he needs a rest. They will need some depth to help counteract the inevitable slumps that will occur throughout the season.
No matter what, this Sox offense should mash. There’s so much depth that a Silver Slugger winner from last year is in the six hole. And last year’s MVP is still in the heart of the lineup. There’s enough power in the lineup to make the Sox one of the favorites in the division. How consistent they are will determine if they win it.