In Brett Lawrie the White Sox got exactly what they ordered off the menu.
Brett Lawrie in 2016: 94 games, .248/.310/.413, 12 HRs, .253 TAv, 1.3 WARP
Brett Lawrie career averages: 98 games, .261/.315/.419, 11.8 HRs, .266 TAv, 2.2 WARP
Lawrie did just about everything one might have expected when the Sox acquired him from Oakland last offseason. And while he did a lot to shore up a position that has been a black hole for the White Sox for quite a while, that whole “doing what you expected” thing included getting hurt.
Despite playing in a career-high 149 games in his lone season with the Athletics, Lawrie has averaged just 98 games per year during his six seasons in the league. He stayed healthy for the better part of the first four months of 2016, too, but a hamstring injury in late July turned into a season-ender.
Lawrie was and continues to be a wise acquisition. He’ll play all of next season at 27 years of age and shouldn’t get too hefty of a raise through arbitration from the $4.125M he made in 2016. For that, the White Sox have got a decent bat for the position (though second base in the American League had quite the boom in 2016) and glove that hasn’t exactly been easy for them to find in the past.
BUT, he gets hurt.
When Lawrie went down on July 22, the White Sox handed the starting job over to Tyler Saladino.
Saladino more than held his own during the final months of the season, finishing with a .282/.315/.409 batting line in 319 PA, and a 1.4 WARP. While nobody will mistake him for an All-Star, he has now played a full season’s worth of games in the last two years (.257/.294/.376 overall in 573 PA) and has proven to be a valuable utility infielder, competently defending three infield positions (not to mention playing three innings at first base) with a bat that is, well, not the worst that’s been seen on this team in recent years.
Now, imagine, for a second, that you live in a magical world where when one of the starters on your favorite baseball gets injured it doesn’t turn that position into a complete and total black hole.
Imagining one of your favorite players getting hurt isn’t a fun exercise. Whoever replaces him isn’t going to be as good. He’ll be worse. He’ll strike out sometimes. He’ll commit an error on occasion. Sometimes he’ll have a brain fart on the base paths and get thrown out, ya know, like a nincompoop.
But he won’t completely torpedo your team’s chances of winning, because he’s a competent major leaguer who occasionally gets hits, draws walks and turns double plays. This player’s name is Depth, and he’s been missing on the South side for quite some time.
Tyler Saladino is depth.
Lead photo credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports