Projecting the White Sox’ 2020 lineup
Manager Rick Renteria has a little bit of everything to work with. ‘‘We got some power guys, some speed guys and some power and speed guys,’’ shortstop Tim Anderson said.
GOODYEAR, Ariz. — One of the more intriguing and potentially powerful White Sox lineups in recent memory begs the question: How will manager Rick Renteria sort it out and line up his players?
Cactus League batting orders should be regarded as thinly as the paper they’re written on, but Renteria leading off with Tim Anderson in the spring opener Sunday against the Reds and his stated intention of using Anderson and Yoan Moncada in the top two spots seem to suggest the leadoff spot is what he has in mind for Anderson, the reigning American League batting champion.
Anderson’s favorite spot is second, but he said he is on board with what the Sox’ brain trust deems best. No matter what, Anderson likes what he sees from his perch at the top.
‘‘We got some power guys, some speed guys and some power and speed guys,’’ Anderson said. ‘‘We have two catchers [Yasmani Grandal and James McCann] and the pitching, and you look at our lineup and it could be fun. We’ve got a chance. Motivate one another, push one another and keep that positive energy rolling, and we’ll be just fine.’’
Against the Reds, Renteria batted Anderson, Moncada and Jose Abreu in the top three spots, a trio he seems to like for the upper third. A hint of things to come? Here’s an educated guess on how Renteria will roll with his 2020 lineup:
1. Anderson, SS
Leadoff is where it starts, of course, and there’s no obvious choice for the Sox. Moncada’s speed, on-base percentage, power and ability to take pitches would fit nicely, but look for Renteria to respect his discomfort level at the very top. Anderson walked only 15 times last season, so he’s far from ideal. But he led the majors with a .335 average, is fast and has some pop.
2. Moncada, 3B
The switch-hitting Moncada can hit anywhere from first through fourth, but the Sox’ best all-around hitter is perfect here. Speed and power at the top.
3. Abreu, 1B
This is where Abreu, a .293/.330/.503 career hitter and the 2019 AL RBI leader (123), has batted 726 times in his career. The next-most is 124 in the cleanup spot, where his numbers have been slightly better.
4. Edwin Encarnacion, DH
This will work if Encarnacion, who ranks third among active home-run leaders with 414 behind Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera, records his ninth consecutive season with 30-plus homers. It might not if he begins to show a decline at age 37.
5. Grandal, C
A switch hitter who could bat anywhere in the first six slots, Grandal will make pitchers work. He hit a career-high 28 homers and walked 109 times with Brewers last season. He slashed .246/.380/.468.
6. Eloy Jimenez, LF
If Jimenez becomes the hitter many think he will be, the No. 6 slot won’t hold him. He led AL rookies with 31 homers and 79 RBI and was second in OPS at .828 last season. He seems primed to take those numbers to another level in his second season.
7. Nomar Mazara, RF
Mazara, a left-handed hitter, has hit 20, 20, 20 and 19 homers in four seasons. He is more experienced than most 24-year-olds, and the Sox are hoping for a breakout season from him. He has been better against righties (.271/.337/.462) than lefties (.231/.272/.361) in his career.
8. Luis Robert, CF
If Robert is as good as he projects, this spot won’t hold him for long. But look for Renteria to ease him into the majors at the bottom of the lineup.
9. Leury Garcia, 2B
He was the Sox’ primary leadoff man in 2019, but he isn’t a high on-base guy (21 walks) and is better suited for the bottom of the order. He eventually might be replaced by Nick Madrigal and deepen the bench.