Making the Grade: Ranking Designated Hitters in the AL Central

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No. 2: Adam LaRoche, Chicago White Sox

Apr 29, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Chicago White Sox designated hitter Adam LaRoche (25) stands at the top of the dugout during the fourth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Fans are not allowed to attend the game due to the current state of unrest in Baltimore. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Entering the season with high expectations, Adam LaRoche and the White Sox have been ice cold through one month of the season.

LaRoche, for one, has struck out 30 times already and hit just five extra-base hits in his first season with the White Sox. After signing a deal with the Sox as a prized free agent leaving the Washington Nationals, LaRoche was coming off a season where he hit .259 with 26 home runs and 92 RBIs. LaRoche has drove in 100 RBIs twice in his career and has contributed nine straight 20-plus home run seasons – excluding 2011 when he played just 43 games due to injury.

Unfortunately, the strikeout is also a big part of LaRoche’s game.

While he has acknowledged he is frustrated with his performance so far, LaRoche is a notoriously slow starter and his slow start is nothing to get bent out of shape over. He owns a career .713 OPS in the season’s opening month, but that number jumps well over .800 as the season progresses. And for the first time in his career, LaRoche will be relegated to a full-time DH role that he believes will keep him fresh throughout the season (c/o Chicago Sun Times):

"“I like it,’’ he said of the DH role. “It’s a little getting used to but I enjoy it. In the long haul will be good. But I don’t think that’s the issue because I’ve been pretty good in the past about getting over an at-bat. I can get over it pretty quick.”"

If his career numbers hold true this season, LaRoche is only getting started. By season’s end, he may very well challenge Victor Martinez for the top hitter on this list – especially given the talent around him in the White Sox lineup.

Next: No. 1

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