Kevin Youkilis and grinding at-bats

Kevin Youkilis and grinding at-bats
Getting to like you, getting to hope you like me...// Armando L. Sanchez, Chicago Tribune

The 2012 White Sox have a great many enjoyable qualities, but patience hasn't been one of them.  "They don't work the count!" was a common complaint during the early-season struggles, and while those voices have died down as the wins have piled up, the process has remained the same.

Going into Wednesday night, the White Sox offense was averaging 3.81 pitches per plate appearance, good enough only for 10th in the AL.  The difference between the 1st place team and the last place team in that regard is only around a fourth of a pitch, but the effects of that approach quickly balloon out elsewhere.  Despite having the league-leader entrenched in the #3 spot of the lineup, the Sox are also 10th in walk rate.

Despite the past two days' glories, Kevin Youkilis is a diminished version of himself.  He's hitting .306/.342/.417 in a White Sox uniform.  He's looked fine enough while producing that state line, and he's blown away the production of Orlando Hudson and Brent Morel, but the Red Sox weren't fools to think that their beloved All-Star slugger is gone.  The Greek God of Walks has just one in 38 plate appearances, and hasn't flashed a ton of power.

I mean not to write off Youkilis' chances to reclaim a bit of that, but to emphasize that even in his current state, what he has still been able to do is be a complete annoyance to the opposing pitchers.

Youkilis ended Wednesday night's game against the Texas Rangers with a walk-off single at the end of a nine-pitch war with Matt Adams that began with five straight foul balls.  Adams would throw two pitches out of the zone and have another strike spoiled by Youkilis before getting too much of the heart of the plate with a low fastball and trudging off with a loss.

Correlation does not equal causation, but Adams was already in his second inning of work, was stressing out about Alejandro De Aza trying to steal 2nd, sweating out a high-leverage outing in intense heat, and dealing with Youkilis' attempt to grind him into a fine powder simply could not have helped.

The triumph capped off a day where Youkilis saw 28 pitches in five plate appearances--the most of anyone on the team--and brought up his average amount of pitches per PA since joining the Sox to 4.34.  Over a full-season, such a rate is good enough for 2nd-best in the entire AL.

Kevin's is on the decline, no doubt, and can't fix the Sox patience issues singlehandedly, but stacked between Dunn (4.54 pitches per PA) and De Aza (3.97) at the top of the lineup, he's well-positioned to try like to hell to take every opposing pitcher down with him.

 

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