To say the White Sox have struggled to get production out of the designated hitter spot this season would be a bit of an understatement.
The White Sox entered the second half of the season with their combined DH production ranking dead last in the American League in every major average. White Sox DHs are batting .177 (worst by 30 points) with a .277 on-base percentage (worst by 11 points), a .328 slugging percentage (worst by 64 points) and a .602 OPS (worst by 83 points).
Yonder Alonso accounted for a lot of that and is now with the Colorado Rockies after being released, but he only played 42 of the team’s 82 games with a DH in the first half of the season. Jose Abreu has DH’d 22 times this season, but even he hasn’t put up the same numbers compared to when he plays first base. Abreu entered Friday hitting .231/.311/.436 as a DH as opposed to .292/.318/.547 as a first baseman. Same goes for all-star catcher James McCann, who has a .466 OPS in his seven games as a DH.
Welington Castillo, Zack Collins, Jose Rondon, Daniel Palka and Jon Jay have also played as a DH at least a couple games this season and not one of them has been productive in the spot.
Friday’s 5-1 loss to the A’s featured a new DH for the White Sox: A.J. Reed. Reed was claimed off waivers from the Astros on Monday and he made his White Sox debut in Oakland. Reed had three flyouts before singling in his fourth trip to the plate in the ninth inning.
The 26-year-old was a second-round pick of the Astros in 2014 and surged up prospects rankings two years later. Baseball America ranked him as the No. 11 prospect in baseball while MLB Pipeline had him at No. 40 entering the 2016 season. However, things took a downturn that year.
Reed had a .924 OPS in 70 games in Triple-A in 2016, but hit .164/.271/.262 in 45 games with the Astros. He spent most of the next two years putting up decent numbers in Triple-A (.883 OPS in 2017, .850 OPS in 2018) with only three games in the majors.
This season, Reed, a lefty, was hitting .224/.320/.469. The power is still there, but this is the worst he has hit in Triple-A in four seasons.
For comparison, Palka is hitting .270/.376/.535 in Triple-A Charlotte. This is the same Palka who is 1-for-45 with the White Sox this year.
The White Sox took a shot on Reed to boost the abysmal DH production the team has had this season. His track record doesn’t provide much confidence that he will be any better than the rest, but it looks like the White Sox will give him a chance to show otherwise.