by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
There’s certainly been a lot of baseball news of late (most notably the Red Sox’ splurge to add both Hanley Ramirez & Pablo Sandoval). However, not to be overlooked is the news that broke over the weekend as the Chicago White Sox have signed Adam LaRoche to a two-year contract. With Jose Abreu fully entrenched at first base, LaRoche is expected to be the primary DH for the team.
LaRoche is coming off a solid season for the Nationals, hitting .259 with 26 HR and 92 RBI. He’s hit 25+ HR in three of the past five seasons, including a pair of 100 RBI seasons.
There was a notable split in his numbers from this past season, however:
- vs. RHP – .280/.390/.501
- vs. LHP – .204/.284/.336
He hasn’t had that dramatic of a split throughout his career, but it is something that needs to be monitored.
While he thrived at home this past season, he is moving to a favorable home ballpark. Last season U.S. Cellular Ballpark yielded 1.86 HR/game, significantly better than Nationals Park (1.33 HR/game). In 2013 U.S. Cellular actually yielded 2.21 HR/game, giving even more of an indication that his power should play nicely.
Overall LaRoche did have some poor luck in ’14, with a .277 BABIP despite a 22.1% line drive rate. Of course, with a career average of .264 it’s hard to expect a dramatically better mark. In fact, since 2010 he has not hit above .271 and has been under .260 three times.
That said, the outlook is positive for LaRoche moving forward. While he has had his down seasons in the power department his new home should help alleviate that problem. While he may not be a 30 HR hitter, another 25+ season is a fair expectation.
Couple that with the potential to hit at least .250 (with the potential for more) and drive in 90+ runs and there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic. While he’s not going to be an elite option, he’s definitely a viable corner infielder and potentially even a starting first baseman (though the depth at the position may rule that out).
Regardless, consider his arrow pointing up and make him a viable option in all formats for 2015.
Sources – Fangraphs, ESPN
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