The White Sox return to U.S. Cellular Field to face the Cleveland Indians Monday evening reeling from the effects of a five-game losing streak. Last week, which had started so wonderfully with a sweep of the Minnesota Twins and victories over the Tigers and Kansas City Royals, turned into a nightmare and exposed flaws in the lineup that must be addressed.
The second and third spots in the order have become liabilities, and two moves will immediately make this a better club.
The first move manager Robin Ventura needs to make is putting Gordon Beckham in the No. 2 hole and moving Kevin Youkilis to No. 9.
The numbers don’t lie.
Over the last 10 games, Youkilis is hitting .162 and has reached base 11 times in 42 plate appearances, while Beckham is hitting .250 and has reached base 12 times in 33 plate appearances over the same stretch.
To take it a step further, in 46 more at-bats batting second, Youkilis has only three more hits than Beckham and has struck out more than twice as often. The power numbers are better for Youkilis (14 home runs and 42 RBI), but he racked up the bulk of those stats in the immediate aftermath of his acquisition from the Boston Red Sox.
Beckham is simply a better fit for the offense batting second right now.
In addition to putting Beckham toward the top, moving Alex Rios to the third spot in the order would provide immediate dividends.
Again, the numbers don’t lie.
Rios possesses better speed, hits for a higher average, strikes out less and would provide Beckham with some protection. Dunn’s monstrous May is behind him, and he is in a place right now where he is hurting—not helping—the Sox in the march to October.
To be sure, Rios failed to drive in a run with the bases loaded in the first inning of Sunday’s loss to the L.A. Angels and has had his share of ill-timed popups. On the season, however, he is batting .346 with runners in scoring position while Dunn is hitting .198.
That should be the only number that matters.
Ventura has considered this move in the past. He decided against it because he was hesitant to alter the lefty-right-lefty combination at the top of the order.
Well, now is not the time to hesitate. Take advantage of the talent and get this team out of their offensive slump.
There is not enough time left for Youkilis and Dunn to work it out on their own.