White Sox

Hawk Harrelson: Todd Frazier trade will considerably help Jose Abreu

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Hawk Harrelson: Todd Frazier trade will considerably help Jose Abreu

Though Jose Abreu’s production decreased from 2014 to 2015, Hawk Harrelson thinks it eventually would go down as one of the first baseman’s best seasons ever.

And with newly acquired third baseman Todd Frazier in the mix, the veteran play-by-play man figures the White Sox slugger is due for an even bigger campaign in 2016.

Despite little stability directly behind him in the lineup, Abreu finished 2015 with a  .290/.347/.502 slash line with 30 home runs and 101 RBIs in 668 plate appearances.

Abreu’s success is due in large part to him slugging .560 on pitches out of the strike zone, according to baseballsavant.com (he also hit an absurd .341/.453/.530 with runners in scoring position). But with Frazier — who has 64 homers the past two seasons — behind him, Abreu should benefit, Harrelson said.

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“To have a dangerous hitter behind him, he’s going to have pitches to hit,” Harrelson said. “Abreu’s stock went straight up when we got Frazier.

“People don’t understand what a great season Abreu had. They just don’t understand. There was no protection. Zero.

“The numbers were fantastic when you take into consideration what he had hitting behind him."

Abreu’s .560 slugging percentage on pitches out of the strike zone ranked 18th in the majors. Of his 178 base hits, 76 were on pitches outside of the zone, up 16 from his rookie campaign when Abreu had 60 of 176 hits on similar pitches.

Part of it could also be attributed to opposing pitchers pitching to the scouting report more effectively in Abreu’s second season. Part of the increase also could be due to the fact that the team’s No. 4 hitters — Abreu batted third in 107 games — performed poorly. Minus Abreu’s 13 games batting fourth, White Sox cleanup men combined to hit .241/.334/.400 with 15 homers and 67 RBIs in 634 plate appearances.

As it is, studies have shown the idea of protection rarely results in anything more than fewer intentional walks for the hitter receiving protection. But Harrelson’s point is that having a powerful hitter behind him could benefit Abreu from a psychological standpoint.

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A year earlier, when Adam Dunn posed a much bigger threat than anyone did in 2015, Abreu slugged a major-league best .581.

“A lot of people don’t understand that one guy can change the whole culture of the lineup, either positive or negative,” Harrelson said. “On the positive side, one guy can change it and I think that guy is Todd Frazier. The big thing for me is he can catch the ball at third base. And the next thing is, he’s going to protect the best hitter on our club. It’s contagious.”

ZIPS projects that Frazier will hit .255/.318/.449 with 25 homers and 80 RBIs for the White Sox this season. Harrelson hopes those numbers are on the low end. But even if they are correct, Abreu and the White Sox offense should see a significant increase.

“If he does that, he’s going to make Abreu 10-15 percent better and it’s going to take a lot of heat off (Avisail Garcia),” Harrelson said. “What a great year Abreu had because they had nobody to hit behind him. For him to get 30 and 100 again with no protection, it would be like if they had nobody to protect Miguel Cabrera, he wouldn’t hit anything either because nobody would pitch to him.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: What should be the plan to call up the White Sox prospects?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: What should be the plan to call up the White Sox prospects?

SportsTalk Live is on location for White Sox Authentic Fan Night. Phil Rogers (MLB Network), Mark Carman (WGN Radio), David DeJesus and Ozzie Guillen join Kap to talk about Manny Machado Mania, Anthony Rizzo’s struggles and the White Sox plans for calling up their best prospects. 

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

White Sox add Alex Presley at Triple-A, another veteran outfielder who could factor into 2018 plans for banged-up outfield

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USA TODAY

White Sox add Alex Presley at Triple-A, another veteran outfielder who could factor into 2018 plans for banged-up outfield

Not long after the White Sox brought Michael Saunders into the organization, another outfielder with major league experience is joining Triple-A Charlotte.

Alex Presley — a 32-year-old who played 71 games last season for the Detroit Tigers and has also spent time with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Minnesota Twins, Houston Astros and Milwaukee Brewers — is the latest addition to the Knights’ outfield. He’s a guy who could potentially be used to help the White Sox outfield, which has seen two Opening Day players go on the disabled list for extended periods of time.

Avisail Garcia is in his fifth week on the DL while dealing with a Grade 2 hamstring strain. Nicky Delmonico is expected to miss the next four to six weeks while recovering from a broken bone in his hand. The White Sox might feel that the collection of Adam Engel, Trayce Thompson, Leury Garcia and Daniel Palka might be enough to get them through those injuries. But the results have not been great from that group. Engel and Thompson are both hitting under .200, while Leury Garcia and Palka have on-base percentages just above .300.

Presley, like Saunders, could be an option for a midseason promotion should he hit well in the minors. He hit .314 with a .354 on-base percentage in those 71 games with the Tigers last season. This year, he was playing in the Baltimore Orioles’ organization, where he hit .275 with a .347 on-base percentage in 26 games.

It’s possible we won’t see either veteran outfielder on the South Side this season (though having Presley here for Elvis Night would be pretty excellent), but it gives the White Sox options should the lack of production from their current crop of outfielders and the injuries to Avisail Garcia and Delmonico keep them out longer.

It’s also quite possible that none of the names mentioned to this point will have a role to play in this team’s long-term future, not an outlandish thought considering Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Micker Adolfo, Blake Rutherford and Luis Alexander Basabe are all still developing in the minor leagues.