A 20 Game Check-Up: Grading the Chicago White Sox on Their First 20 Games
I was a day late on writing this article. Unfortunately, work and a heavy class load right before finals kept me from doing so, so I guess we'll just have to go with 21 games. I meant to do it at 20 and make it a milestone, but we can still make this work, right?
I'm sure no one would complain if I included the 21st game this time, with Matt Thornton picking up a win, Bobby Jenks getting a save, and the White Sox improving to 11-10 on the year in a 6-3 victory over the surprising Mariners.
Now, all kinds of professional sports columnists try to make bold predictions early in the season, and deny what they said a few months down the road, when their words flop on them.
As such, I feel that the first 20 games do not say enough about the Sox to get an accurate gauge on their success to come, but there are a few things that have revealed themselves.
1. Paul Konerko is healthy.
So much for letting a thumb injury bother the team captain. Konerko has come back in force this year, batting .338 on the year, and leading the team with 18 RBI, including today's game. I know it's unrealistic, but wouldn't it be nice to see him put up 18 every 20 games?
That's around 144 RBI on the year for you math nuts. It's a good dream, but Konerko could realistically crack into the high 90's and even the 100's for RBI's.
2. Speaking of health nuts, hello Carlos!
I remember the despair I felt last year when Carlos Quinten went down last year. It was great to see his ferocity as a player when he struck his own bat. It was a nightmare to find out the same thing broke his wrist.
Whatever was bugging him before has been channeled into home-run hitting power. He already has eight on the season, and looks like he's ready for another breakout year. He's on pace for a 40+ home run season, and that would be just fine.
3. John Danks is mortal (barely).
I know I brag this guy up a lot, but I think there is good reason to. Unfortunately, Danks just still can't seem to get the run support he needs to win every time. Considering that he had a sub-one ERA until his last start at the Mariners, I think he deserves a little credit for trying to emerge as a future ace.
He still leads the team in ERA after his loss to the Mariners, but don't let that loss shake you. Every pitcher has a poison team, and for Danks, the Mariners are deadly. Look for him to rebound next time out, and start dominating line-ups for quite some time.
Hopefully he hits that 20 win mark for me.
4. Bartolo Colon can be an effective starter.
There were all kinds of concerns going into spring training for the White Sox. As time drew near for the season to start, plenty still remained; who would bat lead-off, who would be in center field, who would stay on reserve, and most notably, who would round out the rotation?
Jose Contreras hasn't quite gotten back to form, but Bartolo Colon is making a good case to keep him in the starting rotation for the rest of the season. His win against a strong Mariners team is just one example of a case he's made for himself this year, in an impressive recovery from the bone chips being removed from his elbow.
5. The White Sox have a fair chance at the AL Central.
So does everyone else.
The Royals have Greinke. The Tigers are starting to look more like their old, power-offensive selves. The Twins...well, the Twins are the Twins. And even the Indians, who are down on their luck, could make a run at first place, should another team hit a slump or have injury issues.
This is going to be a brawl all season long, and the close records make inter-division play all the more important.
I don't have any bold predictions to make or anything to that effect, but it's been a blast watching the Sox play so far this year, and a ton of fun writing the game recaps for all of you White Sox faithful.
I'll catch you all again at Game 40, and hopefully a lot more games in between!
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