Well that was a total roller coaster of emotions for Sox fans this offseason, huh? From Cespedes, to Upton, to Gordon and every free agent OF in between, the Sox finally land on Austin Jackson. Sure, most Sox fans wanted Reinsdorf to bust open his wallet and land one of the big three, but at this point it’s probably safe to say that most Sox fans are happy to finally put the off season to rest and pencil in Jackson as the opening day starter in CF. Anytime an organization can add a player that offers + defense and is coming off a 2.3 fWAR season for only 1 year and $5MM, the organization roster improves the moment the ink dries.
Two important notes regarding this singing:
* Jackson will start in CF, shifting Eaton to RF (when healthy)
* Garcia will probably platoon with Laroche at DH
The second asterisk is the biggest reason why this signing is a big deal for the Sox. It’s sort of addition by subtration, as it takes at bats away from both Laroche and Garcia. Ventura can now construct a much more effective lineup card by playing to Laroche and Garcia’s L/R splits. Laroche’s 2015 slash line against RHP in 2015 was .221/.318/12/37 while Garcia’s was .293/.353/3/13 in 123 at bats. Those slash lines obviously aren’t setting the world on fire, but each player can now be put in a much better position to succeed.
The biggest reason this signing is a victory for the Sox is that it immensely improves their OF defense. Without looking up stats to prove this, I would bet that the White Sox OF defense in 2015 was the worst or near the worst in all of baseball. With Jackson now manning CF, the Sox have two above average OFers in Eaton and Jackson, as opposed to one good outfielder and two atrocious ones in Garcia and Melky.
Had Garcia been the 2016 starting right fielder for the Sox, both Steamer and ZIPS projected he would again be a below replacement level player. Jackson projected to be worth 1.2-1.17 before this signing, and it’s safe to say those numbers will increase now that he can safely be projected to have at least 250 at bats in hitter friendly US Cellular Field as opposed to pitcher friendly Safeco Field in Seattle. This is more or less a 3.0 fWAR improvement for just $5MM, which is a borderline All Star player that’s being paid peanuts. The overall improvement this signing is pretty massive when you boil it down.
As of now, this is the group the Sox are going to war with. Now it’s go time. This is a solid roster from top to bottom and should absolutely be in contention for a wild card at the very least. No excuses, playoffs are officially an expectation. Let’s fucking roll.
Chicago would burn to the fucking ground and I’d be the one lighting the match, win or lose