Chicago White Sox: Five Things We Have Learned so Far This Season
As we enter the middle of June, the Chicago White Sox find themselves in last place in the American League Central and sinking fast.
They currently sit 7.5 games behind the division-leading Detroit Tigers and have given their fans little reason to believe that things will turn around any time soon.
There are a variety of reasons for the ineptitude of the White Sox, but none is more glaring than their inability to score runs.
As a team, they currently rank dead last in the AL in runs scored, RBI, triples, on-base percentage and OPS.
On top of that, they are ranked second to last in hits, doubles, total bases, average and slugging percentage.
Of the 11 main offensive categories, that leaves only one, which is home runs. And there are only two teams in the league that have less than the White Sox.
Is it possible to be this bad offensively?
Up and down their lineup, the White Sox have guys who simply can't get on base, and even when they do, no one can drive them in.
It's honestly painful to watch, which is why I don't very often.
Sadly, they have gotten pretty solid pitching all year long, but it's generally been wasted.
And their defense—which was outstanding last season—has been less than stellar this year as only three teams in the league have committed more errors.
The calendar still says that the White Sox have plenty of time to turn things around and make a run at the division this year.
After all, it's been repeatedly brought to Sox fans' attention that the 1983 team that won the AL West by 20 games also had a horrific start to the season, but found a way to pick up the pieces.
However, it's tough to imagine this White Sox team doing the same.
Again, it's only June, but they have a lot of work to do, and with their mounting injuries, it's going to be an uphill battle.
Here's a look at five things we have learned, so far, during this disappointing season.
Chris Sale Is Still Good
One positive, so far, this season is that Chris Sale seems to be proving that last year was no fluke.
Sale is currently 5-4 with an ERA of 2.68 and has given up only 53 hits in 77.1 innings.
He also has a 4-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio (72-to-18) with a .92 WHIP, and opponents are hitting a meager .192 against him.
If it wasn't clear before, it should be now—Sale is the ace of this staff.
However, he could use some support from the lifeless offense, as he currently gets the lowest run support in the league at 2.82 runs per game.
The White Sox definitely have a gem in Sale, and now the hope is that they will not only support him offensively but also keep him healthy.
Sale has already been temporarily shut down once this season, in order to calm down some tendinitis in his throwing shoulder.
The team said that it was more precautionary than anything—let's hope so.
Adam Dunn Is Still Bad
There's really not much to say about Adam Dunn that hasn't already been said countless times.
To put it simply, he's brutal.
For the record, I was never a fan bringing Dunn to the south side in the first place, but Kenny Williams forgot to consult me before making his decision.
Oh well, his mistake.
Dunn has just failed miserably during his time with the White Sox and his contract cannot expire soon enough. It actually expires after next season, which seems like forever.
If you look at his numbers in a White Sox uniform, it's almost appalling.
In his two-plus years with the White Sox, Dunn is hitting a combined .184 and has struck out over 40 percent of the time.
I'm pretty sure that's not good, in any league.
I don't care how many home runs he hits. It's not enough to make up for a complete lack of production everywhere else.
Alex Rios Is the Best Player on This Team
I think it's fair to say that, at this point, Alex Rios is the best all-around player on this White Sox team.
After a big year in 2012, Rios is putting up numbers at about the same pace this season.
He currently leads the team with a .293 average and also leads in hits, runs, doubles, OBP, SLG and OPS.
In addition to this, he has been great defensively as he leads all of baseball with eight assists from the outfield and has committed only two errors.
Actually, if you throw out his awful year in 2011, Rios has had a pretty good run in Chicago.
Unlike Adam Dunn, Rios is starting to provide some value for the big contract that the White Sox took on when they claimed him off waivers during the 2009 season.
He was often criticized early on, but has become a steady force for a team that is certainly in need of it.
Gordon Beckham Is More Valuable Than We Thought
When Gordon Beckham went down with an injury in early April, I don't think many people felt that the White Sox would lose much with his absence.
Sure, they would probably lose something defensively, but they certainly weren't going to miss his production at the plate.
After all Beckham hadn't done much at all offensively over the past three seasons and many—myself included—had begun to wonder if he ever would.
Well, it's still early, and he hasn't had many at-bats, but Beckham is currently hitting .314 with a .368 OBP while still playing a stellar second base.
With the way the White Sox offense has been going this season, he is a bright spot for sure and has given the team a little boost after returning to the lineup.
Obviously, the hope is that he can continue to produce like this over the course of this season and beyond.
If so, the White Sox may have finally gotten the guy they thought they had when they drafted him.
This May Be the End for Paul Konerko
Paul Konerko will no doubt go down as one of the best ever to put on a White Sox uniform.
He is in his 15th year on the South side and has provided fans with many great memories, but the end may be near for the White Sox captain.
Konerko just doesn't look the same at the plate this year, and the numbers reflect it.
He is currently hitting .231 with six home runs and 24 RBI to go along with a .298 OBP.
At this pace he will finish the season with 15 home runs and 62 RBI, which are both far below his season averages for his career.
Konerko's contract is up at the end of this season, and if he doesn't produce at a better rate from here on out, it's hard to imagine that he will be back with the White Sox—or back at all.
It's conceivable that he may just decide to call it quits after this season.
Which would be tough for him and for Sox fans.
Konerko is currently just 28 home runs shy of passing Frank Thomas for the most home runs all time in a White Sox uniform and already has the most hits all time.
He is a Chicago legend, but everything comes to an end, and it appears that end is close for Konerko.