Good Bye Leury, Hello Hanser (and Romy)
When news broke yesterday, as is tradition, Josh Nelson jumped on Twitter Spaces to discuss and I joined him. My question was this: with the removal of Leury from the roster, the White Sox have no back up 2B or CF on the roster, so who will be the back up in those spots?
The answer to 2B came pretty quickly:
Hanser at the plate
The Hanser Alberto 1.276 OPS in Spring Training has been widely reported. But let’s not forget that we have a larger book on Alberto. He is a 30 year old player with nearly 1400 MLB plate appearances. So we already have an idea of what he is at that plate. A career .272/.294/.380 hitter which makes for a 80 OPS+ or 77 WRC+ (100 is league average). He doesn’t strike out often, he rarely walks, his not a stolen base threat, he doesn’t have much power, and he hits ground balls at about league average 43%. League average grounders is actually good for this Sox lineup. He does have interesting splits. Career OPS vs LHP is .790 while only .590 vs RHP. If he’s in the lineup, you’d prefer he faces a lefty. The only problem there is that Elvis Andrus has similar splits, so it wouldn’t necessarily be at 2B.
Hanser in the field
Hanser is a versatile infielder. He’s seen time at 1B, 2B, SS, and 3B, while 2B and 3B have been his primary positions. As I have listened to discussions around his ability, he’s widely regarded as an above average infielder. However, the metrics do not back that up. He has not posted a positive Outs Above Average or Runs Above Average since 2019 at 2B. Last year, he posted a -3 OAA and -2 RAA in Los Angeles where he had the benefit of playing next to Freddie Freeman who is an above average defender (+3 OAA, +2RAA) and a team that shifted the most overall in the league and 70% of the time against lefties. Hopefully my fellow bloggers and media types have seen something that the metrics have missed.
At 3B, he has less overall time, but it has increased in the past 2 years. Playing 294 innings in 2021 with Kansas City, where his metrics were positive. It’s possible this is where we will see him more often than not. Yoan Moncada‘s weaker half of his splits come against LHP, where Alberto is strong. And heck, when Moncada is making the struggle face after tearing his groin to shreds in the field, maybe this will allow for him to have a day off when he needs it.
One note, if you were looking for Alberto to play the outfield, he has only done so for 21 major league innings and the results aren’t great.
Enter Romy Gonzalez
After hearing of Alberto, the question was, who else would be on this roster? Gavin Sheets, Jake Burger, Billy Hamilton, Jake Marisnick? Well, Sheets yes, but the second name:
Romy is a bit of a known commodity for White Sox fans despite his brief time in the majors. He’s athletic, he plays multiple positions, there have been signs of power in his bat, and there has been a lot of strikeout in his game. It seems with Alberto on the roster and Andrus being the backup SS, they expect Romy to play some outfield. He has very limited experience with the outfield, even in the minors. Additionally, he has not played CF since single A Kannapolis. It will be interesting to see how he is deployed.
From the tweet, we see that both Gregory Santos and Romy Gonzalez made the team and both are already on the 40 man roster. This may indicate to some that someone like Billy Hamilton or Jake Marisnick were left off the team as to avoid issues with the 40 man. But those issues go away, at least until June-ish, when Liam Hendriks goes on the 60 day IL. So I have to think those players were options to Grifol. Additionally, Jake Burger is on the 40 man and is seemingly being left off the 26. His bat plays a lot more than Romy’s. This seems to be the roster the manager wanted.
On the plus side of this equation, it seems like Pedro Grifol has had the opportunity to build his roster the way he wanted. Even if that included sending Leury home with $11M. On a day to day basis, Grifol should be comfortable in setting his lineup. I also think we’ll see less rest for our starters to begin the season, which means Alberto and Gonzalez will not really be a factor. What we’ll wait to see is what happens when Luis Robert needs a day off. Will Oscar Colas be called upon to play CF? Will Sheets play RF or will it be Romy?
My biggest concern, and one I alluded to in the Twitter Spaces, is that while removing a player like Leury that was not producing, you will need 2 players to replace him. If those 2 players don’t produce, have you actually improved or are you worse off because you’ve blocked a bat like Burger’s by doing this?
We’re days away from the season starting, so we will find out soon enough. Our first time skipper has the roster he wants and I’ll be out in Section 108 rooting him and the White Sox on and leaving my concerns above at the bottom of a beer can.