In case you somehow missed it, AJ Pollock was pulled from the White Sox’s second game of the season against the Tigers due to an injury. As he was rounding first base, Pollock grabbed his hamstring area. Manager Tony LaRussa sent in Andrew Vaughn to pinch run for the injured Pollock. The White Sox confirmed the injury soon after.
This is yet another blow to a White Sox team that has struggled with injuries. Before the season started, the White Sox ruled Garret Crochet out for the year while Yoan Moncada‘s injury sidelines him for 3 weeks and Lance Lynn suffered an injury that will keep him out 2 months. Yesterday, Lucas Giolito suffered an abdominal injury that will keep him out for at least two starts.
The White Sox acquired AJ Pollock right before the season started to play Right Field. If the White Sox hadn’t acquired Pollock, the RF position would be considerably weaker. Andrew Vaughn will likely be expected to play more in wake of this injury. At the end of last season, I analyzed Andrew Vaughn and came to the conclusion that he’s perfectly capable of being a big league starter. He should be just fine to pick up some extra slack.
Even if Andrew Vaughn is capable of picking up the load, losing AJ Pollock will still hurt the White Sox. Pollock started both games of the White Sox’s games at leadoff and did well, albeit in a very small sample size. It should be noted that Pollock has not played a full season since 2015. In 2021, he played 117 games with the Dodgers and did well, slashing .297/.355/.536. That was good for a 137 OPS+ making him a premier hitter who outdid the likes of Jose Abreu and Tim Anderson.
AJ Pollock has never been a great fielder, and that was on full display Friday as Javier Baez had a walkoff single that was very catchable. It’s pretty hard to explain, so here’s a video clip:
Anyhow, AJ Pollock isn’t the best of fielders. He has consistently been below average since 2019, although he wasn’t as bad in 2021. He had 0 Outs Above Average in 2021, contributing to the fact that he has made an effort to improve his fielding ability.
Even with his fielding being subpar, AJ Pollock is still a valuable player. He had a 3.1 WAR in 2021 through 117 games, meaning he’s a decent player. Andrew Vaughn will do a fine job in his place, but the White Sox will still miss his hitting ability. His timetable for returning is unclear at this point, so there’s still hope for a speedy recovery.