White Sox

White Sox season review: First base

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White Sox season review: First base

As the White Sox head into the winter following a 76-86 offseason, CSNChicago.com will examine the past, present and future of each position group at 35th and Shields. We'll look at first base today.

Depth chart

1. Jose Abreu: 6 years/$68M (2014-19)
2. Adam LaRoche: 2 years/$25M (2015-16)
3. Mike Olt: 1.156 MLB service time

What went right

Jose Abreu proved to be a lineup mainstay in Year 2 with the White Sox. The 28-year-old became only the second player in major league history to hit 30 or more home runs and drive in 100 or more runs in his first two seasons, joining Albert Pujols with that designation. His contract escalates to pay him $10 million in 2016 after earning $7 million in 2014 and 2015, but after a 3.0 WAR season he should remain one of the better power-hitting bargains in the majors.

[MORE: White Sox season review: Catchers]

Abreu was hampered by a finger injury that saw his OPS bottom out at .804 on June 8, but he hit 21 home runs with a .298/.354/.518 slash line in 2012 games after that point.

What went wrong

That Abreu avoided a sophomore slump was a welcome sign for an organization that doesn't have much depth behind him.

Adam LaRoche didn't adjust well to the American League, posting a full season career-worst .634 OPS. Interestingly enough -- and small sample size alert here -- he hit eight of his 12 home runs and had a .746 OPS in 45 games as a first baseman, and hit below the Mendoza line with a .560 OPS in 74 games as a designated hitter. He wasn't mashing the ball enough for the White Sox to consider possibly disrupting Abreu's rhythm and playing LaRoche at first base more, but for a guy who hadn't played in the American League or DH'd much in his career, it's worth noting that split.

[MORE: White Sox season review: Bullpen]

If we're splitting hairs, Abreu wasn't as good as he was in 2014, hitting six fewer home runs with an OPS 114 points lower than his rookie year. Defensively, he continued to grade out poorly, though below-average first base defense is something a team can live with (compared to, say, poor up-the-middle or third base defense).

Down on the farm, 22-year-old former first-round sandwich pick Keon Barnum only hit nine home runs with a .712 OPS in his repeat year at advanced Class-A Winston-Salem. In Class-AA Birmingham, 24-year-old first baseman Dan Hayes -- not to be confused with our own Dan Hayes -- posted a .388 on-base percentage but only hit seven home runs with a .360 slugging percentage.

The future

This is the most stable position on the White Sox with Abreu under contract through 2019. The 28-year-old may still need to move to designated hitter sometime in the future, though that’s not an imminent change. From an offensive standpoint, the White Sox can pencil Abreu in for 30 home runs, an .850-.900 OPS and 100 RBIs for the next few seasons.

White Sox catching prospect mentioned in some elite company

White Sox catching prospect mentioned in some elite company

White Sox catching prospect Zack Collins is being talked about in some elite company after a recent accomplishment.

Collins participated in the Southern League Home Run Derby in Double-A earlier this evening for the Birmingham Barons, and he secured his first career home run derby win.

Now, this is cool, thanks to NBC Sports Chicago’s stats guru Chris Kamka: Dating way back to 1895, Babe Ruth was born on Feb. 6, 1895. Collins was born on the same day as Ruth, but 100 years later.

It’s still way too early to make any sort of comparisons, but it’s a fun way to connect the two.

Collins so far this season is hitting .267 with 9 HR, 33 RBI’s and 59 BB in 62 games. Those walks lead the Southern League. The next highest is 39.

Collins is hitting much better than he did when he was with Single-A Winston-Salem last season. Collins hit a mere .233 in 101 games.

Think about this too. Rick Hahn mentioned several White Sox prospects will get promotions in the coming days. Could this mean Collins will get his opportunity? We’ll just have to wait and see.

 

Jose Abreu still leading AL first basemen to start 2018 MLB All-Star Game

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USA TODAY

Jose Abreu still leading AL first basemen to start 2018 MLB All-Star Game

Last week, Jose Abreu had a nearly 26,000 vote lead to start the 2018 MLB All-Star game over Red Sox first basemen Mitch Moreland. But now Abreu can take a brief sigh of relief on his quest to Washington.

MLB updated the American League fan ballot standings Tuesday for the Midsummer Classic. The Sox first baseman now has a lead on Moreland by over 138,000 votes.

This an encouraging sign for Abreu and White Sox faithful. Are fans taking notice of Abreu’s production this season?

His numbers this year include a slash line of .283/.338/.500. He also has 11 homers, 41 RBIs and 26 doubles. For his career, Abreu has a .299 average, 135 homers and 451 RBIs in 683 games.

He ranks first among AL first basemen in hits, doubles, RBIs, SLG and OPS. In other major offensive statistics, Abreu ranks near the top 10 for almost all of them.

Abreu is a cornerstone in the White Sox rebuild and if he does indeed start, it could be huge for his confidence and the team.

An All-Star nod this season would also mean a second career appearance in the game. He debuted in his rookie year (2014) as a reserve.

If fans indeed vote Abreu in as a starter, he would be the first position player to start for the White Sox since Frank Thomas did it back-to-back as a first baseman in 1994 and 1995.

There is still time to cast your votes to see Abreu start the Midsummer Classic. The AL will have another updated voting ballot June 26.