A question, a statement, and a befuddled blogger

The question: Why did we draft Nick Madrigal?

The statement: We are set in the middle infield.

The befuddled blogger: What?!

I have heard and read this question and this statement repeatedly since the White Sox drafted Oregon State 2B/SS Nick Madrigal Monday night. I don’t understand either one.

Madrigal batted .333/.380/.456 as a freshman in one of the toughest conferences in college baseball. He turned it up a notch his sophomore year with a .380/.449/.532 line. Pretty hard to top that, right? This season he is batting .406/.470/.586. That on base percentage is not a typo-.470. That means Madrigal is getting on base almost half the time he goes to the plate.

Not impressed? He walked more than he struck out EVERY SEASON of his college career. In an era where there is no shame in striking out, no shame in a complete lack of a two strike approach, no shame in an inability to lay down a bunt or move a runner over, Madrigal defies the swing out of your shoes, low baseball I.Q. approach. He is old school, baby, and that’s awesome.

Still not impressed? He struck out 5 times in 133 at bats this year. That means he puts the ball in play and gives his team a chance to win. I don’t know if there is a metric for that, and I don’t give a (expletive). It’s good baseball. He stole 35 bases in 41 attempts in his college career, which means he’s quick, and he’s discerning. He doesn’t run into outs.

 

He started his college career at shortstop, but was moved to second base to accommodate PAC-12 Defensive Player of the Year Cadyn Grenier, who was taken 37th overall by the Baltimore Orioles. The Sox believe he can stick at shortstop, and they’ll most likely start him there at High A Winston-Salem after he signs. His OSU Beavers are currently competing in the College World Series against Minnesota.

I’d say any proclamation that the Sox are ‘set’ in the middle infield is shortsighted and, well, wrong.

Tim Anderson has done little to solidify his hold on the shortstop position long term for the Sox this season. According to Baseball Reference, he is tied for second in the major leagues with 10 errors. (I refuse to cite defensive metrics like UZR because those numbers claimed current Padre/former Royal 1B Eric Hosmer was average defensively last year. The eye test proves that to be ridiculous-plus, he won the Gold Glove in 2017.) The ordinary play continues to confound Anderson, and he regularly employs a three-quarterish arm angle, producing errant throws that pull Jose Abreu off first base.

His batting line doesn’t make you feel much better. Yes, his home runs are up, but home runs are way, way up across baseball because of the unacknowledged juiced balls. .242/.303/.447, with 11 home runs, 25 runs batted in, 18 walks, and 56 strikeouts isn’t much to be excited about. Anderson is 24 years old. The MLB Network’s pre-season list of the Top 10 shortstops did not include Anderson, but Houston’s Carlos Correa (1st, 23 years old), LA’s Corey Seager (2nd, 24 years old), Cleveland’s Francisco Lindor (3rd, 24 years old), Washington’s Trea Turner (4th, 24 years old), and St. Louis’s Paul DeJong (7th, 24 years old) are proof production can come quickly from special young players.

Yoan Moncada’s background is well documented. When the Sox acquired him, along with Michael Kopech, Luis Alexander Basabe, and Victor Diaz from the Red Sox for Chris Sale, Moncada was ranked the number 1 prospect in all of baseball.

Currently, Moncada leads the major leagues in strikeouts for a second baseman with 84. Second is Cesar Hernandez of Philadelphia with 62. He takes A LOT of hittable pitches, regardless of the count. He looks completely overmatched against pitchers with good curve balls and effective change ups. His defense is fine at second base, but ask yourself, if you could pick between these three players, would you choose Moncada?

Atlanta’s Ozzie Albies: 21 years old. .257/.304/.496, 19 doubles, 14 home runs, 35 runs batted in, 16 walks, 51 strikeouts in 272 at bats.

New York’s Gleyber Torres: 21 years old. .302/.359/.554, 5 doubles, 10 home runs, 28 runs batted in, 10 walks, 38 strikeouts in 139 at bats.

Moncada: 23 years old. .233/.308/.419, 12 doubles, 8 home runs, 22 runs batted in, 24 walks, 84 strikeouts in 215 at bats.

Baseball America’s scouting report said that Albies 'should give the Braves above average defense and speed'.

Fox Sports’ scouting report said that Torres has ‘tremendous hands’ and a ‘plus to plus-plus arm’.

Moncada and Anderson are great athletes, but it is outrageously premature to write or say that the Sox are set up the middle.

Welcome to the south side, Nick. We aren’t sure where the rebuild is headed, but it should be interesting either way.

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