7 Chicago White Sox Players' Hottest Starts to the Season That Will Continue
As a team, the Chicago White Sox (4-5) are off to a relatively quiet start this season. As individuals, however, there are seven White Sox regulars who are off to very hot starts in 2013.
The question for the White Sox is: Can they stay that way?
For some, the answer is yes. For others, it is no.
The baseline for position players is that they must have appeared in at least seven games and have a batting average of .300 or better.
Pitchers must possess an ERA under 2.50 and at least two starts or four relief appearances with a minimum of 3.0 innings pitched.
These parameters provide a large enough sample size to include in the early conversation. I stress the word early, because it is.
Regardless, here are the seven players who are off to a hot start for the White Sox and thoughts on whether or not they can stay that way.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.
Opinions are both subjective and objective, meaning that they are based on trends from previous seasons as well as my gut feeling (for whatever that is worth).
Statistics accurate as of April 11.
Gordon Beckham, 2B
Stats: .316 BA, 7 G, 19 AB, 6 H, 1 R, 5 K
Gordon Beckham may be the surprise of the young season, but it will most likely not last.
First of all, Beckham has underachieved in the month of April over the course of his career. In 2012, for example, he hit a mere .153 with 16 strikeouts. The previous season, he collected 20 K and hit .194. April has not been very kind to the young second baseman.
The other reason Beckham does not figure to continue his hot-hitting ways is that he will undergo surgery on his left wrist and could miss six weeks (via Scott Merkin's Twitter feed).
Hopefully, he will be able to pick up where he left off when he returns, but he may end up losing the groove he was in and will likely cool off.
Conor Gillaspie, 3B
Stats: .438 BA, 9 G, 16 AB, 7 H, 2, R, 1 3B
Conor Gillaspie has been getting regular at-bats since the fifth game of the season and has had three multi-hit contests so far this season.
The smooth-swinging lefty may earn himself more of a role if his current production holds up. While a .438 average is not a realistic expectation moving forward, .300 may be.
After ending spring training on a down note, the Wichita State product has responded well to his expanded role. That is welcome news following word that Beckham is going to miss an extended amount of time.
There is no real track record of early-season at-bats to go off of here, but Gillaspie appears to be able hit major league pitching on a regular basis.
His hot start will continue.
Alex Rios, RF
Stats: .429 BA, 1.309 OPS, 9 G, 35 AB, 15 H, 4 HR, 8 RBI, 4 BB, 3 SB
The only place to go when you are hitting .429 is down. So in a sense, Alex Rios will not continue his hot start.
He will continue, however, to be the best hitter on the White Sox.
After years of alternating success, it seems that Rios has finally found a batting stance that suits him. He is upright with his hands in prime position to get through the zone and drive the ball.
On Wednesday evening, he had his streak of consecutive games with a home run snapped at four, but he did manage to get two hits and drive in a run. He has since extended his career-high hitting streak to 15 games.
Rios is a beast, and that will not change.
Jesse Crain, RHP
Stats: 5 G, 4.0 IP, 2.50 ERA, 5 K
Crain’s curveball appears as sharp as ever, and he is locating his fastball quite well.
Most impressively, he has only surrendered three hits so far this season and has struck out three of the eight left-handed batters he has faced this year.
Crain gave up his first run of the season on Thursday evening against the Washington Nationals, but there is no reason to believe that his hot start will come to an end any time soon.
Matt Lindstrom, RHP
Stats: 5 G, 6.0 IP, 0.00 ERA, 6 K
Matt Lindstrom has been better than expected since his arrival via free agency. Brought in to complement Crain and Nate Jones, Lindstrom has been so pinpoint with his control that he has only allowed four runners to reach base all season.
The perception of the right-hander was that he was a fastball pitcher. Thus far, Lindstrom has relied on his sinker and slider much more often. Fangraphs.com has his fastball percentage at a mere 18.6 percent.
Something to consider when looking at that number is that as the season progresses, he should be able to sprinkle in more fastballs since opposing batters may be looking for something with more movement.
That is why his hot start is sure to continue
Addison Reed, RHP
Stats: 4 G, 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 3 SV, 2 BB, 4 K, .077 BAA
Addison Reed has been nearly perfect during his four appearances.
Part of the reason he has been so successful is that he finally appears to have some confidence in his off-speed pitches—particularly his slider.
That has made all the difference and has turned Reed into a much more efficient closer.
He was also brought into a tie game during the 10th inning against the Seattle Mariners last Sunday prior to earning his first win. Reed did not thrive in non-save situations last season—as his 6.75 ERA in them can attest to.
While there are sure to be letdowns, Reed's confidence in his secondary pitches should help him remain consistent throughout the year.
Chris Sale, LHP
Stats: 2 G, 1-0, 1.84 ERA, 14.2 IP, 3 BB, 14 K, .226 BAA
Chris Sale is off to a fine start. Although he was a bit shaky during his second outing against the M’s, Sale is going to be just fine.
Most encouraging is his strikeout to walk ratio, which currently stands at 4.67. If he can continue to keep hitters off balance, Sale will improve on last year’s successes.
An area of concern, on the other hand, is that he has already served up two home runs. Pitching in a notoriously hitter-friendly ballpark like U.S. Cellular Field, Sale has to keep his fastball down to find sustained results.
There is no reason, though, that Sale is in any danger of dramatically cooling off.