Friday, July 1, 2022

Can Jake Burger Be The White Sox Solution At Second Base?


Jake Burger knows his only path to a big-league roster spot is through second base. His traditional position at third base is already locked down by Yoan Moncada and the White Sox have an immediate need at second base.

A video surfaced on Instagram of Burger putting in work at second base. He has been actively working on learning the position during the offseason. Burger appeared on the Parkins and Spiegel show on Thursday afternoon and said that the White Sox suggested the plan after the 2021 season.

“I’m really working on my transfers and my feeds, those are the two main things,” Burger said told Parkins and Spiegel. “It’s been fun.”

When asked about being the starting second baseman next season, Burger implied that it is a possibility.

“I had the conversation with the team following the playoffs last year, it was just one of those things, work on it you never know what’s going to happen so might as well put it in your repertoire and see what happens. It’s never a bad thing to diversify your game a little bit.”

Promoting from within is nothing new for the White Sox. The franchise loves using internal solutions to plug holes. In 2010 they needed bullpen help. Instead of adding someone during the trade deadline, they promoted their first-round pick, Chris Sale. In 2020 they made a similar move with Garret Crochet.

Last season provides another example. When the White Sox needed a designated hitter they promoted Andrew Vaughn despite his limited minor league experience. When Eloy Jimenez got hurt they moved Vaughn to left and promoted Yermin Mercedes to DH.

The problem is, Burger has only played 6 games at second base. He made one appearance there in college and five last season in Charlotte. During his five games at second base, 19 balls were hit in his direction. He made seven putouts and had 10 assists. But he committed two errors and had just a .895 fielding percentage, so there is room for improvement.

However, Burger seemed to relish his short time at second base.

“I played like five games over there this year and really enjoyed it,” Burger told Parkins and Spiegal. “Ground balls are a lot easier over there than third base. But still working on the pop-ups because it’s a little different with the ball coming back towards you. Other than that I like it and we’ll see what happens.”

Learning a new position is never easy but if there is anyone who can do it, it’s Jake Burger. His incredible journey to the MLB is a testament to his ability to overcome adversity.

He missed the entire 2018 season due to a ruptured Achilles tendon suffered during a spring training game in February. During a lengthy rehab process, he re-ruptured it in May.

In 2019 he missed the entire season for the second straight year due to a bruised left heel. When he was finally ready to take the field again, the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the minor league season in 2020. He spent the entire season at the Schaumberg training facility.

There was a time in October of 2019 where Burger had a conversation with Chris Getz about quitting baseball. His passion for the game was gone and he felt burned out. However, his parents convinced him to stick with it.

Burger dedicated the 2020 offseason to his body. He improved his diet and lost a significant amount of weight making him lighter on his feet. His improved body allowed him to be more versatile in the field. The hard work finally paid off when he was called up in July.

Burger had his share of memorable moments in his first season in the show. He notched two hits in his first game against Detroit. His first big league home run was blasted 456 feet against the Houston Astros. Overall in his first 15 games of action, he had a respectable .263 average and a .807 OPS.

Considering the free-agent market of quality candidates has dried up at second base, giving Burger the Opening Day assignment at second base is worth a shot. It would allow the front office to save some money and allocate more funds toward right field and pitching depth.

At 6’2 230, Burger is not built like your typical second baseman. But if he can figure out the position he could be a major asset in the White Sox lineup. In Triple-A Charlotte he batted .274 with 18 home runs, 54 RBIs, and a .845 OPS. He could easily turn into a rare power-hitting second baseman if given the chance.

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