It’s regularly perplexing to look at the White Sox roster, or look at the back of the baseball cards (those still exist, right?) of the players on the roster, and then see their 47-51 record. Hell, even this year’s stats make it a bit confusing. The rotation has weathered injuries to Jake Peavy and John Danks to produce the second-most fWAR in the AL, the bullpen is doing just fine with the ‘riding four elite arms’ approach, Paul Konerko is having another 2010, and while this isn’t an elite range team, having the least errors in the league has to help, right?
Just to clear up the confusion, the White Sox hammered out the template to their mediocrity while losing two out of three to the last place Royals.
Turn middling starters into heroes
-The White Sox racked up 8 runs in 3 games (29 innings) on the worst pitching team in the league. 2 of those runs came courtesy of a fluke error by the Royals best defender, Alcides Escobar. This will happen, and it’s not like the White Sox should give the game back, it’s just that looking for the lynchpin of the opposing defense to hand over runs is a rather unsustainable method. If the White Sox sweep the Indians this weekend after Carlos Santana flings 8 balls into center field, we’ll revisit this point
-Danny Duffy is a top prospect, and Bruce Chen has at least been sufficient in results this season, but the Sox whiffing 9 times in 5.1 IP to pitching leper Kyle Davies is baffling.
-Even if Chen and Duffy did spend their spare time polishing their Cy Young awards, you can get fired for working as lightly as they did in their starts against the Sox. Chen threw just 83 pitches to get through 8 innings, and after laboring through an arduous 3rd frame on Tuesday, Duffy needed just 30 pitches for his last 4 innings. Obviously the Sox have a lot of free-swingers by nature, and some base their game on aggression. But that is unconditionally atrocious.
2 runners caught stealing, and 6 double plays hit into on the series for a team in the top 4 in the league for both categories…and 9th in getting men on base. There aren’t a lot of scoring opportunities, and they’re over fast.
Curious lineups to cover up awful offense
Ozzie Guillen’s in a pinch because Adam Dunn–the man brought in to save the offense–is ripping it apart with one of the worst seasons in baseball history. But without any real replacements or alternatives, he winds up fielding lineups that are just as much lambs for the slaughter as Dunn is.
-Tuesday witnessed Alex Rios–the hitter with the lowest OBP in baseball of any regular– operating in the #5 hole. Sure, Ozzie didn’t have to do such a horrible thing, but alternatives would involve moving up Brent Morel or the newly-broken Brent Lillibridge to higher slots.
-Wednesday featured Alexei Ramirez as a DH while Omar Vizquel started at short. In his first plate appearance, Ramirez attempted a bunt.
Awful catcher defense
There’s never been a more timely edition of the catcher defensive rankings than Matt Klaasen’s damning assessment of A.J. Pierzynski. A.J. had an atrocious Wednesday night behind the plate, allowing his 5th dropped third strike to reach base on the season, getting beat for a stolen base by Jeff Francouer, and letting a Sergio Santos slider kick-off of him while Alex Gordon slid in for the winning run.
Santos’ slider is nasty enough that a catcher might be given the benefit of the doubt on such a play, but Pierzynski hasn’t earned it.
Awful in high-leverage situations
Wednesday: 0 for 6
Tuesday: 0 for 1 – A double play at that
Monday: 0 for 1 – An RBI groundout
For the season in high-leverage: .211/.288/.322, .271 wOBA, 63 wRC+. 2nd worst in baseball. Thanks, A’s.
And that’s saying nothing about hitting 3-20 with runners in scoring position for the series.
For what it’s worth–possibly nothing–another prototypical disappointing series pushed Ozzie into a frothy rant. It’s certainly unclear what sparks a roster change with this team, but Guillen’s decision to cite “a lack of energy” would seem to place the burden on him to effect change, as there’s not really another member of the organization more responsible for that.
Tags: A.J. Pierzynski, alex gordon, Alex Rios, Alexei Ramirez, baseball, Brent Lillibridge, Brent Morel, bruce chen, carlos santana, danny duffy, Jake Peavy, jeff francouer, John Danks, Kansas City Royals, kyle davies, Omar Vizquel, Ozzie Guillen, Paul Konerko, White Sox