Chicago White Sox: Winners and Losers from First Month of Action
The Chicago White Sox have had quite an eventful first month to the 2013 season. There have been missed cutoff men, wild pitches, bad base running, blown calls and individual failures en route to a 10-15 start for the White Sox.
Have there been any bright spots during an otherwise horrid start for the White Sox, though? A set of winners to go with the losers, if you will.
Well, that question is terribly difficult to answer, but not impossible.
The reason it is so very hard to answer is that there are so many negatives to choose from, yet so few positives. So, in an effort to balance this list, only the most glaring losers were chosen, and the field was balanced out with a few winners.
There are three players in each category and one surprise entry that has never set foot on the field.
As the White Sox prepare to begin play in a make-or-break May, here are the seven winners and losers from the first month of the season.
*Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Refernce.com.
Loser: Jeff Keppinger, 3B/2B
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Brought in to make contact, get on base and advance runners, Jeff Keppinger has failed in large part to do any of the three.
His current slash line (.202/.198/.226) is the Hall of Bad worthy.
The biggest problem for Keppinger is that he is swinging at pitches that, in the past, he hadn't (via FanGraphs.com). He simply has not adjusted to the opportunity to play on a regular basis.
His defense has also been rather suspect since taking over at second base for the injured Gordon Beckham.
On more than one occasion, Keppinger has failed to turn a double play by either not tagging the runner or by making a lackadaisical feed to Alexei Ramirez.
To add injury to insult, he has recently missed playing time with back spasms.
The situation with Keppinger is quickly becoming problematic.
Winner: Addison Reed, Closer
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Addison Reed has been sensational this season.
Going into Tuesday night’s game against the Texas Rangers, Reed has eight saves in eight opportunities, while winning one game.
Reed has been relying on his slider much more often this season, and it is paying off. He has only walked four batters in 11.0 innings of work and has recorded 12 strikeouts.
Most impressive, though, is his efficiency. Reed struggled to have clean innings (three up, three down), last year, but 2013 is a different story. He already has four such appearances this season and has been one of the bright spots in the bullpen.
Loser: Tyler Flowers, C
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While he has hit three home runs, his .177 batting average and 25 K in 62 at-bats are well below expectations,
He is also failing to deliver on his supposed area of strength—a strong arm.
To this point, Flowers has only thrown out three runners in 19 stolen base attempts. To be sure, some of that is on the pitchers inability to hold runners on, but he has been a defensive disappointment.
Add it all up and Flowers has been anything but an adequate replacement for Pierzynski. Makes you wonder what Hahn was thinking when he let Pierzynski walk away and sign with the Texas Rangers.
Winner: Jose Quintana, SP
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Jose Quintana has been one of the more consistent starters for the White Sox.
In fact, other than his first start of the season when he gave up five earned runs in 4.0 innings, and Tuesday night against the Rangers, Quintana has been lights out.
At one point he surrendered only two runs in 18.2 innings pitched.
When the season began, there were legitimate questions about the young left-hander.
Would be able to repeat the successes he found as a rookie? Was the fade at the end of last year a sign of things to come, or the natural result of surpassing his career high in innings pitched.
Well, he has answered those question to this point. It looks like the White Sox have a keeper on their hands.
Loser: Adam Dunn, 1B/DH
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Adam Dunn’s struggles are well documented.
For the month, Dunn hit .148 with six home runs and 12 RBI and struck out 32 times in 88 at-bats.
Most concerning is his OBP. It sits at an unacceptable .242 and is well below his career mark of .368. Much of this seems to be due to a new approach at the plate that has him swinging earlier in counts.
Hitting coach Jeff Manto’s reasoning behind the new method is that Dunn was letting hittable pitches go early in the count last season. That ended up putting the power hitter in the unenviable position of constantly being a two-strike hitter.
Swing at strikes early, the theory went, and the more damage Dunn was supposed to be able to do.
As Dave Cameron, from FanGraphs.com, pointed out, the results have been disastrous.
Dunn is striking out at an unprecedented clip and has seen his OBP plummet. His biggest strength—besides hitting home runs—has always been his ability to get on base, and that is no longer the case.
Without the ability to draw the base on balls, Dunn is largely a two-outcome player. He either whiffs, or hits a home run.
Winner: Conor Gillaspie, IF
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Conor Gillaspie has been the right guy at the right time for the White Sox.
Who knew that when general manager Rick Hahn acquired the young infielder, he would amass 61 at-bats and have appeared in the second most games (24) for the White Sox in the month of April?
What he has been able to do is nothing short of remarkable.
A career .205 hitter prior to this season, Gillapsie has exploded for a .311 batting average, while drawing six walks and compiling a .368 OBP.
He has given manager Robin Ventura the opportunity to overcome the loss of Gordon Beckham—from an offensive perspective, at least.
In what is turning into an otherwise forgettable offseason for Hahn, Gillaspie has been a bright spot.
The Ultimate Losers: The Fanbase
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Wow, does it look like we were wrong.
Most fans knew that there would be offensive limitations, just not this many.
Most fans thought that pitching would be the strength of the team, just a bit stronger.
And the defense was supposed to be solid, right? Wrong.
Every Sox fan hoped that the 2011 version of Adam Dunn would stay in the record books for good. Unfortunately, Dunn is rewriting history in the worst way.
There are three ways to measure a team’s performance to its expectations. It can exceed them, meet them, or fail to live up to them.
So far, the White Sox have failed to live up to our expectations.
We are being robbed of competitive baseball, and that is why the fanbase is the biggest loser as the first month of the 2013 season comes to a close.