With Tim Anderson serving the first game of his two-game suspension on Sunday, the Chicago White Sox turned to AJ Pollock in the leadoff spot. After a quick look at the numbers, maybe they should put Pollock in that spot more often.
Pollock will enter Tuesday's doubleheader in Kansas City slashing just .238/.286/.354, a far cry from his typical figures. In fact, if the season were to finish today, it would be Pollock's worst career slash line. The 34-year-old outfielder has only hit below .250 twice in his 11-year MLB career. One occasion was an injury-plagued 2016 campaign in which Pollock only appeared in 12 games. The other was his rookie season, in which he played 31 games and finished the season hitting .247.
Those numbers might not scream "this guy should be leading off." But what Pollock has done in the leadoff role for the 2022 White Sox seems to be a statistical outlier compared to when he is placed in other spots throughout the order. So far this season, Pollock has served as the leadoff man 12 times. In those games, he has slashed an astounding .418/.448/.618 with two home runs and five doubles.
Most of Pollock's starts in the leadoff role came when Tim Anderson was battling a groin injury that kept him out of the lineup from June 1-20. But he once again found himself at the top of the lineup card on Sunday. In the series finale against the Texas Rangers, Pollock went 3-5 with two doubles and the White Sox won by a final of 8-2.
Shake Things Up
The White Sox will be without Tim Anderson for one more game as he finishes serving his suspension. Anderson figures to slot back into the leadoff role when he returns to the lineup for Game 2 of Tuesday's doubleheader against the Royals. However, it might benefit all parties -- including a slumping Anderson, AJ Pollock, and the White Sox offense -- to give Pollock an extended look in the leadoff spot.
Anderson hasn’t exactly been great of late. The All-Star shortstop is slashing .249/.287/.290 since returning from the injured list. Furthermore, Anderson has only five extra-base hits in that span. Gavin Sheets and Josh Harrison both have 11 respectively. Anderson also leads the White Sox in the unsightly GIDP stat during that span with six. Those numbers don’t exactly set the right tone for a ballclub that needs to get the motor going.
Even so, Anderson is still hitting above .300 on the season. It is far more likely that Anderson breaks out of this funk over the last three months of the season than for this type of play to continue down the stretch. Barring any injuries, Anderson should, by all means, return to the leadoff spot, but he needs to be performing at a level that makes him a threat in that role.
I think Sox On Tap host Jonnie Nonnie said it best in the tweet below.
The Chicago White Sox currently trail the first-place Minnesota Twins by two games in the AL Central. They are 55-53 but have failed to surge significantly above the .500 mark and up the standings. At this point, why not try shaking things up a bit?
If the spark the White Sox need to help correct their offensive inconsistency involves giving AJ Pollock a longer look in the leadoff role, it's a chance worth taking, even for a few games.