Chicago White Sox fans can expect Jeff Keppinger, Chicago's new starting third baseman, to make a lot of contact over the next three years.
Jeff Keppinger and the Chicago White Sox agreed to terms on a three-year, $12 million contract, to have Keppinger serve as Chicago's third baseman for the foreseeable future.
Though Keppinger isn't your prototypical third baseman, the price -- just $4 million per year -- is certainly a bargain, especially when compared to Marco Scutaro's three-year, $20 million contract that he received from the San Francisco Giants.
Fangraphs' Jeff Sullivan took a close look at what Keppinger brings to the table, and White Sox fans can expect a lot of contact from Keppinger when he's at the plate.
Since 2002 - the FanGraphs Era - 596 players have batted at least 1,000 times. Jeff Keppinger's strikeout rate ranks third-lowest, while his contact rate ranks second-highest. You can think of him as Marco Scutaro without the defense, or as Juan Pierre without the defense and the wheels. Keppinger occupies an extreme in one regard, and there are no clear signs that's about to change.
In 418 plate appearances for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2012, Keppinger struck out just 31 times -- only 7.4% of all his plate appearances. Because Keppinger doesn't hit a lot of home runs, his bating average on balls in play will almost certainly fluctuate over the span of the contract, which will likely result in inconsistent bating averages and on base percentage totals from Keppinger.
Still, the White Sox knew this before they signed him. For four million dollars a year, the White Sox landed a singles-hitting, contact machine of a third baseman. As Sullivan put it at Fangraphs, in this market, that's perfectly acceptable.