I’m definitely a fan of Alejandro De Aza. It is such a shame that he was injured in 2007 and it basically hindered his progress through the Marlins system. Eventually, the White Sox claimed him from waivers in 2009, a Kenny Williams reclamation project if there ever was one. It has turned out to be a good pick up. De Aza batted well in the lead off position posting a .281/.349/.410 line with 9 homeruns. He did manage to get on base at a fair clip, unfortunately with only 47 walks and a slightly better than mediocre base stealing percentage. At 29, I don’t think there is hope that his approach will be changing much. Even so, he was the best lead off hitter the Sox have had since the magical Podsednik season of 2005, my personal love of Juan Pierre not withstanding. I must admit I go back and forth on the importance of the batting order. I liked Earl Weaver’s take that it is the one time a manager gets to fully set up an inning and getting runs early seems like a good thing. After that though, I wonder how many innings De Aza led off besides the first? And is the one position that important or effective when that batter comes to the plate with two outs or with men on base? I’m sure if I did enough digging I’d find my answer, but I’m happy with idle speculation at the moment. (Future Post alert!)
Projections for De Aza are bit up, conservative even, .295/ .357/.438. I think that is probably the best course with a 29 year-old center fielder. I hope with a full year of experience on the basepaths that his base stealing improves and he can provide a bit more of that dimension, but James has him right about the same level of success. Another question: How much did Ventura use the running game last year? One year for a manager isn’t much to go by when trying to divine a style or approach, but I’d like to check into that too (Double future post alert! I could write about this shit forever!!)
With the additions of De Aza and Viciedo, not to mention Rios back to his comfort zone of right field, what was a defensive liability for the White Sox has become an above average unit. I wouldn’t say they were one of the top five defensive outfields in the AL in 2012, but in the top half. Being there isn’t going to cost a team too many games, and they might even help preserve a win or two along the way. De Aza was solid in center, if a little below average. Hopefully another full year will produce better results. If only he wouldn’t have missed most of 2007 and all of 2008, I wonder what that experience would have done for him.