Chicago White Sox: Lineup Must Continue to Produce When It Counts

Todd Thorstenson@@Thor1323Analyst ISeptember 15, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 15: Alex Rios #51 of the Chicago White Sox congratulates Kevin Youkilis #20 on scoring against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning on September 15, 2012 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

For most of the 2012 baseball season the Chicago White Sox have been a team that has hit when it counts, even though that really isn't the case lately.

What's interesting is that the White Sox and the team chasing them—the Detroit Tigers—are both among the top teams in baseball at hitting with runners is scoring position.

The reason that is interesting is because if you have watched any White Sox or Tigers games lately it doesn't look like either team has any idea how to hit with guys on base.

What's even more crazy is that the White Sox continue to have the best batting average in baseball with men on 3rd base and less than two outs, even though it seems like they leave men stranded there constantly—and to be honest, lately they have.

Overall the White Sox sit in the middle of the pack with a .257 team batting average, but their ability to drive in runs with men on base has been critical all season and will be even more important over the final weeks.

They currently have eight guys in their lineup who are hitting .275 or better with RISP, and six of those guys are at .300 or better, but in recent weeks the offense has definitely hit a wall, and many of those averages are on the decline.

Over the past month the White Sox have only two guys in the lineup hitting over .300—Alexei Ramirez and Gordon Beckham—and that's overall, not with RISP.

With the exception of Konerko—who has been steady at .284—no one else in the lineup is hitting over .235 during that span. This includes a .233 average for Alex Rios and a .198 average for A.J. Pierzynski, who have seemingly carried the White Sox offense for most of the season.

That's not gonna get it done.

In the games the White Sox have managed to win in the last month, most of them have been courtesy of the long ball as opposed to stringing hits together and manufacturing runs.

While there's no doubt that there have been other issues lately, particularly in the bullpen, the White Sox are going to have to start clicking offensively if they want to reach the post-season.

The starting pitching hasn't been quite as sharp lately, but they've been pretty steady all season. If Gavin Floyd can give them something these last few weeks and Jose Quintana can get back on track, they should be all right—that's if the Sox lineup can get them some runs.

The good news is that Adam Dunn has returned to the lineup—who would have thought anyone would say that after last year?—and while he's not hitting for a great average, his mere presence in the lineup makes a huge difference.

Hopefully his return can kick start an offense that has been stagnant.

With under 20 games remaining in the season and a slim lead on the Tigers, I would say now is a good time for the bats to come back to life.

Alex Rios and A.J. Pierzynski—feel free to return to your mid-season form.