Help from below

Help from below
Alexei, staring at something of mild interest // Nuccion DiNuzzo, Chicago Tribune

The bottom of the White Sox lineup is by definition, fairly bad, and certainly not reliable.  It's a bottom of the order, after all.

But there's been a smattering of sparks throughout the normal darkness.  It hasn't been enough for anyone to get promoted--lest the 'return Beckham to the #2 spot!' crowd regain any steam.  The three regular denizens of the bottom spots are more inconsistent to a fault than hopeless, so it makes sense to check in on them once in a while.

Alexei Ramirez hit a robust .290/.321/.480 in August, and it was just like 2008 all over again.  He swung freely, made lots of contact, and showed the old pull power to left field.  Unfortunately, it's now September 19th, and he's back to being an ineffective singles hitter once more. Publicly, Jeff Manto is framing this as a positive development.  He has his reasons.

It was mildly interesting to see Alexei break out a couple of his "taking ALLLLLL the way" stances this past week.  Manto has had a lot of success this year imploring hitters to be who they are, and not try to artificially incorporate patience into their approach.  Ramirez has never been great at effectively combining power and patience, and it would seem like Manto would discourage him from blatantly taking pitches off, but old habits die hard.  It'd be nice if more walks came with it.

Gordon Beckham is slugging .659 for September, and has added a noticeable crouch to his batting stance while clubbing seven extra-base hits in 44 at-bats.  Gordon has run the gamut of temporarily effective mechanical adjustments, so there's no need to start negotiating his contract extension, but his career-high home run total has finally transformed from statistical oddity to something substantial.

If his stats hold up, it would be the first time in his major league career that Gordon Beckham's raw production (wRC+, OPS+, etc.) has improved from the previous year.  His strikeout rate has dropped 4%, and he's seen a 50 point jump in his slugging percentage too--which is entirely the result of him tapping into his power these last three weeks.

Dayan Viciedo becoming Jonny Gomes would be a tremendously, tremendously sad end for his development.  Equally worrisome is the notion that he could end the year stuck in a platoon with Dewayne Wise.

Yet, in terms of how useful it will actually be for the Sox...well, it certainly could be.  Dayan removes a lot of anxiety of showdowns with the likes of Bruce Chen by producing at MVP-levels against southpaws - .354/.392/.637 with eight home runs in 120 plate appearances

So long as Dewayne Wise's more-than-a-little surprising home run power continues, his contact rates against right-handers should be enough to make him an asset.  It's remains extremely difficult to understand how Wise is managing to thrive.  So, a nice compromise between embracing his ridiculous playoff run-sustaining streak and everything we know about player evaluation is to call him a useful platoon bat.

Perhaps useful enough to win a division with.  There are plenty anomalies to keep Dewayne company.


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