Eli White positioned for more opportunities in a Texas Rangers uniform
Since returning from a short stint in Triple-A this month, Texas Rangers utility man Eli White has been given as much playing time as he’s ever had at the big-league level.
It’s an opportunity that the 27-year old was expected to be given when the team recalled him on June 8.
And in the eyes of manager Chris Woodward, White has come back as strong as ever at the plate.
"“He just looks really good right now,” Woodward told the Dallas Morning News’ Evan Grant after the team’s 5-1 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Thursday. “…He’s pressuring opposing pitchers. That’s what we’re looking for.”"
White’s infrequent appearances on the diamond along with his .128 average in the early goings of the season resulted in a trip to Round Rock for the Clemson University product.
But when taking into account his stronger at-bats and flashes of power since returning to Arlington earlier this month, the utility man’s spot on the team appears to be his to lose for the remaining three months of the campaign.
By-way of a forearm injury to everyday outfielder/designated hitter Willie Calhoun, combined with the Rangers’ losing record, the increased number of opportunities given to White appears to be an organic shift — especially when considering the limited playing time he received throughout April.
Multiple looks in the Texas Rangers’ lineup
The native of Greenville, SC has hit three home runs in June, and has seen his spot in the order differ — from hitting second ahead of Adolis García, to fifth behind Joey Gallo.
At this point of White’s progression as an everyday player on this edition of the Rangers, the statistics seem to be less important than the patient approach he’s consistently showing at the plate.
“His at-bat quality was good even when he didn’t get hits,” Woodward told Grant after White’s two for three effort against the A’s on Thursday.
Going with the trend in baseball
Woodward’s recent praise of White is a direct reflection of the outfielder’s improvement. But it also speaks to what the Rangers hope will result in an elimination of his weakness — striking out.
In 48 at-bats in 2020, the utility man struck out 16 times, good enough for a strikeout rate of 30.8% — a small size, but one that was worth tracking ahead of 2021. And when fast-forwarding to this season, the gradual improvement has been evident (29.0%).
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Still, FanGraphs suggests that any hitter with a strikeout rate higher than 22% is considered “below average”, when focusing on that area of play.
Pointing to where a hitter is slated in any given big-league order is one thing — recognizing a player’s change in approach is another.
And when that sentiment relates to White, the Rangers may just have another decision to make this winter on where the utility man slots in moving forward.
Prior to the Rangers’ three-game home set on the weekend, White was in the midst of a 11 for 30 run in his last eight games. A 1 for 13 showing against the Kansas City Royals starting on Friday may have temporarily cooled him off.
But still, the 27-year old has played in 11 consecutive games — something that didn’t seem likely not too long ago.
Texas Rangers: Rematch with A’s coming up
After a sweep of the Royals at Globe Life Field, Texas will enjoy an off day Monday before meeting the A’s for the second time in as many weeks in Oakland on Tuesday.
The Oakland Coliseum — an opportunity for any speedy outfielder to shine. Yet again, another chance for White to show he belongs in the lineup everyday.