Tuesday, September 27, 2022

The Yasmani Grandal Leadoff Experiment Was A Complete Failure


When the White Sox lineup was released early Tuesday night a surprising name was at the top of the card. Tony La Russa had Yasmani Grandal penciled in as the leadoff man.

The move was immediately met with a volatile reaction from fans. On the surface, it makes no sense. Entering the game Grandal was batting just .164 with a .271 OBP. Traditionally managers like to have speed at the top of the order. Grandal is also by far the slowest player on the team.

Grandal has batted leadoff just 14 times previously in his MLB career. He is not your prototypical leadoff hitter. But given his struggles at the plate, Tony La Russa felt the need to mix up the order.

Leading off is all about getting on base. Nobody on the White Sox did that better last season than Grandal. Grandal led the White Sox with a 23.2 walk rate. His 87 walks were the seventh most in the MLB, even though he only played in 93 games due to injury. He also posted a solid .940 OPS.

On top of that, the White Sox averaged the most runs per inning when Yasmani Grandal was leading off said inning last season. Factor in all these things and Tony La Russa decided to roll the dice. It did not work. In fact, it was a colossal failure.

As he has for much of the season, Grandal looked lost at the plate. In the first inning, he swung through a right over the heart of the plate. During his second at-bat, he got ahead 1-0 then proceeded to swing at the next three pitches and struck out on a slider.

In the fifth inning, he got ahead in the count 3-0. He then took a fastball right down the middle, fouled back another in the same location then swung through another fastball. Three fastballs right in his wheelhouse and he was unable to put any in play.

Grandal finally made contact in the sixth inning. With runners at the corners and one out, he lofted a fly ball into left field. It was deep enough to be a sacrifice fly to tie the game. Unfortunately, Danny Mendick decided to take off for second base and was thrown out before Reese McGuire could cross the plate. Grandal was visibly frustrated, slamming his helmet to the ground.

He had a chance to redeem himself in the eighth inning. With the White Sox trailing by a run, Grandal came to the plate with runners on first and second. He hit a dribbler to shortstop the shortstop Bo Bichette. Bichette came charging in and made a nice play to nab Grandal.

Yasmani Grandal is now the only qualified hitter with an OPS below 0.500. This is coming from the highest-paid player in franchise history. Not only should Grandal not be getting the most at-bats on the team he should be nowhere near the top five in the batting order until he can figure out how to hit right-handed pitching. He is batting just .146 against right-handers this season.

His power numbers are also down. Grandal has never been able to hit for average. His career average is just .237. But he has always been able to hit home runs. For his career, he has racked up 174 of them. But this season he is slugging .218 which is on track for the worst mark in his career.

Grandal is supposed to be a force in the middle of the lineup. He is advertised as the best catcher in baseball. Instead, his fingerprints are all over the White Sox’s struggles this season.

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