With the All Star break here, I decided to breakdown the first half of the White Sox season over the next few days. I will do a brief summary of each player and the coaching staff over the next few days. The first group I will look at it is the starting nine.
(1B) Paul Konerko:
Konerko had a great first half even though he has cooled off in the last 30 days or so. Konerko is batting .329, which puts him 9th overall in baseball. He had 14 HR's on the season with 42 RBI's. Konerko, along with AJ, carried the team early in the season offensively. He was hitting near .400 at one point. His leadership has been solid and he has only committed one error in the field. Konerko did have a bone chip flushed out of a sensitive area in his wrist. That is one area to keep a eye on. Konerko should finish the season with around 30 HR's and 90 RBI's. Those numbers will be key to a successful Sox team. Konerko's All-Star selection is well deserved.
(2B) Gordon Beckham:
Beckham has had a up and down first half. After hitting .190 early in the season, he has raised his average to .243. Beckham seemed to be more aggressive once inserted back into the 2 hole. The addition of Kevin Youkilis has seen Beckham return back to hitting 9th. He does have 9 HR's ad 37 RBI's. Gordon also has 14 doubles on the season. Beckham will need a strong second half to consider this a successful season for his personal numbers. I'd like to see him raise the average to around .270. If he can double his home run and RBI numbers he will have put together a good season. Beckham at second base has been a Gold Glove caliber candidate in the first half as well.
(SS) Alexei Ramirez:
Alexei is a notorious slow starter. His usual MO is as the weather heats up so does Alexei. After batting in the low .200's for most of the season, Ramirez has been hot going into the All-Star break. He has raised his average to .266 and has 44 RBI's. Ramirez's HR numbers are down with only two for the season. He needs to continue to hit consistently the second half and increase his HR production. A good second half from Alexei should put him in Silver Slugger considerations.
(3B) Kevin Youkilis:
Most people will tell that the trade for Youkilis is a win already. Youkilis has been a solid addition to a definite area of need at third base. Youkilis as a White Sox, is hitting .347 with 14 RBI's and 3 HR's. He had some big hits in the last home stand and has played a Gold Glove third base. The key for Youkilis is to remain healthy in the second half. If Youkilis can stay healthy and productive, the Sox will be in great shape.
(C) AJ Pierzynski:
AJ is having a career year. He should of been a All Star, but was snubbed. Pierzynski carried the team offensively early in the season with Konerko. He is currently hitting .285, but is also on a pace for career numbers in HR's and RBI's. AJ has 16 HR's on the year with his career high being 18. AJ has driven in 49 RBI's with many coming in key situations. AJ defensively has done a better job this season of throwing runners out. AJ is a competitor and I look for him to build upon his great start in the second half.
(LF) Dayan Viciedo:
Viciedo's transition to left field has been smoother than most thought. He has yet to make a error this season. He has misplayed a few balls, but for the most part has become a solid defender. His arm has saved some runs and in reality won a game or two for the Sox. I would like to see Viciedo's plate discipline get better. He's currently hitting .255, but his OBP is only .296. I would like Viciedo to hit for a higher average and take a few more walks. The power numbers have been great for his first full year. He has 14 HR's and 39 RBI's. He had a great May, but was ice cold in June. Viciedo could be a X-factor for the Sox.
(CF) Alejandro De Aza:
De Aza has been a catalyst for the top of the lineup. He has hit consistently for the most part all season. De Aza is hitting .283 with a .351 OBP. He has 5 HR's and 32 RBI"s. His speed has been key in getting the running game going for the Sox. He has 15 stolen bases on the season. I also have liked his growth as a center fielder. De Aza has taken control of the outfield and has been a great defensive leader.
(RF) Alex Rios:
Rios has come back with a vengeance this season. After a little bit of a slow start, he has been the hottest Sox hitter in the last 45 games. Rios is hitting .318 with 12 HR's and 49 RBI's. Rios has changed his stance at the plate and has a noticeable different approach at the plate. Hitting Coach Jeff Manto and Rios have clicked very well. Rios was taking the ball early in the year consistently to right field and now is turning on the ball to pull it to left field as well. Rios has provided speed on the base paths with 13 stolen bases. He quietly put up All-Star numbers and is providing a solid punch in the middle of the order. Defensively, his move back to right field has been just what the doctor ordered. He has been much more consistent out there and seems relaxed. Rios main thing is to remain consistent in the second half and not dip off in September.
(DH) Adam Dunn:
After just a terrible year that no one expected, Dunn has returned to form. His average has dipped into the .210's and that is something he still can improve on. The power numbers have been great though with 25 HR's and 61 RBI's. He is getting on base consistently with a .357 OBP. He only trails Josh Hamilton for the American League leader in HR's. Dunn will always have a alarming strikeout rate, but in theory a lineout or strikeout is still a out. Dunn has done a nice job at first base and even did well in left field during interleague play. The power numbers got Dunn in the All-Star game. In the second half, I would like to see him up the average a bit. As long as he provides solid power numbers though, he is doing his job. Dunn should finish with 45 HR's and over 110 RBI's I believe.
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