Thursday, April 18, 2024

Who Will Be The Leadoff Hitter For The White Sox In 2024?

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With no Tim Anderson, the White Sox are now given a new predicament at the top of the lineup. For the last few years, it was no question who was leading off, as Tim Anderson, one of the best hitters in baseball, had that spot locked down. Now, there are a few candidates that could take over the big gap left in the lineup. 

This has been a topic in Spring Training thus far. According to James Fegan, manager Pedro Grifol said he had “around four potential leadoff hitters in mind, but specifically mentioned Andrew Benintendi as an option.” 

This is an interesting quote from Grifol, as he has pondered four options, but only named Benintendi when asked by the media. This could point to Benintendi being the favorite to lead off on opening day, but I’m sure Grifol will play around with different combinations during Spring Training. Let’s take a look at who could possibly be leading off for the White Sox on opening day.

Andrew Benintendi

Let’s start with Benintendi. He led off last year at times and was a solid lead off guy. He stole a decent amount of bases last year, 13 to be exact, which was one of the best on the team. That is something you should look for in a leadoff hitter, as if he gets on base, you want him to be able to be a threat on the base paths, as that could open a big opportunity to score more runs. 

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You also look for a guy with a high on base percentage, but Benintendi doesn’t really fit that category. I understand last year was a bit of a down year for him, but a .326 OBP is not going to cut it out of your leadoff hitter. You need someone that is getting on base at least 35-40% of the time to create more scoring opportunities. If he is healthy, he could easily be closer to his career OBP of .347 which would be much better out of the leadoff position. Benintendi is the leading candidate to lead off, but he could be better suited hitting second in the lineup.

Nicky Lopez

The next potential choice could be Nicky Lopez, as he is a scrappy hitter who doesn’t strike out much. That is a great trait to have at the top of the lineup, as you can run up the pitch count of the starting pitcher to start the game if you are able to stay alive in an at-bat. Unfortunately, unless he is replicating his 2021 season, his OBP and overall average are pretty low. However, if he can replicate that 2021 season, he would be a perfect leadoff hitter for the Sox and give a big boost to the lineup. The Sox will have to figure that out as Spring Training moves along and the season gets going, but if he is playing well, don’t rule out Nicky Lopez at the top of the lineup. I bet he is one of the few names that Grifol is considering. 

Dominic Fletcher

Another likely name Grifol is considering could be newly acquired outfielder Dominic Fletcher. He has limited action in the major leagues, but he can get on base like he did in his smaller sample size last season, he could be a solid option. He got on base at a 35% rate and his average was high at .301. These would be good numbers to have at the top of the lineup, so if he can show he can do that again this year, he could easily be one of the candidates to start the game off for the White Sox. He is probably the third most likely candidate due to his lack of MLB at-bats, but as the season goes on and if he gets more comfortable, he could easily take over the spot. 

Other Ideas?

Some outside of the box leadoff options could be Luis Robert Jr. or Yoan Moncada, but they are better suited for the middle of the lineup, especially Robert, as you want them to get as many chances for RBIs as possible. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are tried out in Spring Training, but it is likely they slot more in the middle of the lineup for the regular season. 

If Jose Rodriguez or Braden Shewmake see any regular time in Chicago, they could be leadoff hitters, as they both stole 27+ bags in the minor leagues last year. They likely aren’t going to see significant playing time to start the year, but if they can beat out Paul DeJong for playing time at shortstop, then they could both be solid options. 

The White Sox don’t really have a prototypical leadoff hitter as things stand right now, so they will have to get creative. That could change as things move on, but for now they will have to work with what they have.

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