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  • Jeff Keppinger has not been the answer at third base for the White Sox this season.

      Jeff Keppinger has not been the answer at third base for the White Sox this season.
    Associated Press

  • Chicago White Sox's Jeff Keppinger (7) reacts as he celebrates after hitting the game-winning single against the Miami Marlins during the 11th inning of an interleague baseball game, Friday, May 24, 2013, in Chicago. The White Sox won 4-3. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

      Chicago White Sox's Jeff Keppinger (7) reacts as he celebrates after hitting the game-winning single against the Miami Marlins during the 11th inning of an interleague baseball game, Friday, May 24, 2013, in Chicago. The White Sox won 4-3. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

 
 

Josh Fields. Alex Cintron. Andy Gonzalez. Rob Mackowiak. Pablo Ozuna.

Alexei Ramirez. Juan Uribe.

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Gordon Beckham. Wilson Betemit. Brent Lillibridge. Jayson Nix.

Omar Vizquel. Brent Morel. Mark Teahen. Dayan Viciedo.

Dallas McPherson.

Eduardo Escobar. Orlando Hudson. Ray Olmedo. Kevin Youkilis.

Conor Gillaspie. Jeff Keppinger.

There's your list -- all of the third basemen the White Sox have used since Joe Crede's back injury knocked him out of the starting lineup in 2007 and ultimately ended his promising career in 2009.

Some of them -- namely Uribe, Beckham, Vizquel and Youkilis -- made Sox fans forget about Crede, if only for brief periods.

Others -- namely everyone else on the list -- made Sox fans cringe.

There are three positions in major-league baseball that are severely lacking in premium talent: third base, shortstop and catcher.

Teams that are solid at two of the positions are in great shape.

Teams lacking at all three spots, like the White Sox, are in bad shape.

For now, we'll keep the focus on third base.

Heading into Wednesday night's game at Kansas City, Gillaspie and Keppinger had a combined .221 batting average, which ranked 14th out of 15 American League teams at third base.

Gillaspie and Keppinger's 12 home runs ranked 13th, and their 38 RBI were dead last in the AL.

Clearly, the White Sox are in need of a big upgrade at third base.

Let's start with Keppinger.

A fairly productive journeyman infielder from 2004-12, Keppinger got a regular shift at third base with the Rays last season when Evan Longoria missed much of the season with a hamstring injury.

Keppinger made the most of the opportunity, batting .325 with 9 home runs and 40 RBI while striking out just 31 times in 385 at-bats.

He was a sought-after player on the free-agent market last winter, and the Sox landed Keppinger with a three-year, $12 million contract. In obvious hindsight, the White Sox should have let the 33-year-old Keppinger sign elsewhere.

In 99 games this season, Keppinger has a .247/.274/.298 hitting line with 3 homers, 34 RBI and 34 strikeouts in 369 at-bats.

Even though he's signed for two more seasons, Keppinger is not the answer at third base, where he's batting .169 with 1 home run and 8 RBI in 118 at-bats.

The White Sox have to determine if Gillaspie is the answer.

Acquired in a Feb. 22 trade from the Giants for minor-league pitcher Jeff Soptic, Gillaspie has shown some positive signs, including his 3-for-4 effort in Wednesday night's win at Kansas City.

But Gillaspie is not your prototypical power-hitting third baseman, and he has a suspect .242/.304/.373 slash line to go with 10 home runs and 29 RBI.

He's a solid defender, and maybe the 26-year-old Gillaspie adds power with more experience.

During the off-season, the White Sox will have to make that determination and possibly begin pursuing the next Crede.

sgregor@dailyherald.com

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