Hottest and Coldest Chicago White Sox Players Heading into the Second Half

Matthew SmithCorrespondent IIIJuly 16, 2013

Hottest and Coldest Chicago White Sox Players Heading into the Second Half

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    The Chicago White Sox finished the first half of the 2013 season a rather uncomfortable 14 games behind the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central with a record of 37-55.

    It is a record that White Sox general manager Rick Hahn says his team has “earned,” according to CSN.com’s Dan Hayes.

    He's right, and other than the frenzy of trade activity that is quickly approaching, White Sox fans have very little to be excited about as the second half approaches.

    One thing to follow, though, is whether or not the hottest players on the 25-man roster can continue their torrid paces, or if the coldest ones can pull themselves out of the mire and find a way to get back on track.

    Now, in order to keep this list as focused as possible, the criteria for inclusion here is specific and based solely on their July performances.

    For pitchers, the baseline was an ERA under 2.50 or above 6.00, while position players had to be hitting above .300 or below .230.

    While there are three players in each category, I have added a seventh player whose mental mistakes negate his success at the plate.

     

    All advanced statistics are courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com

Cold: Dylan Axelrod, SP

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    July Stats: 2 GS, 0-2, 14.73 ERA, 7.1 IP, 12 ER, 20 H, 4 K, 2 BB, .488 BAA

    Last week: 1 GS, 0-1, 11.12 ERA, 5.2 IP, 7 ER, 11 H, 3 K, 2 BB

     

    Thanks to a horrific stretch that was punctuated by his last start, Dylan Axelrod figures to be the odd man out once Jake Peavy returns from the disabled list.

    Over his last six starts, opponents are hitting an astonishing .402 against him, and his ERA has swelled from 3.73 to 5.33.

    Whatever the problem is, Axelrod has lost the ability to get hitters out.

    Another unfortunate reality for the right-hander is that if Peavy is eventually traded, Erik Johnson could get called up from the Triple-A Charlotte Knights to replace him in the starting five.

    At that point, who knows? Axelrod may be optioned to Charlotte after winning a spot in the starting rotation out of spring training.

Hot: Hector Santiago, SP

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    July Stats: 3 GS, 0-0, 2.29 ERA, 19.2 IP, 5 ER, 21 K, 5 BB, .186 BAA

    Last Week: 2 GS, 0-0, 2.13 ERA, 12.2 IP, 3 ER, 12 K, 3 BB

     

    Maddeningly inconsistent yet wonderfully talented, Hector Santiago is finally on a roll.

    Santiago’s maturation as a pitcher is most clearly seen in his control. No longer trying to paint the corners or rely too heavily on an erratic screwball, he is working ahead in counts and is keeping hitters off-balance by working the ball more up and down, rather than in and out.

    After posting a 4.38 ERA in June, Santiago has responded by compiling a 2.29 ERA in July, and although he has yet to win a game this month, he has been the most dominant White Sox starter for the past three weeks.

    While manager Robin Ventura has called the left-hander his “Swiss Army knife,” he is earning himself a permanent spot in the starting rotation.

Cold: Tyler Flowers, C

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    July Stats: .136/.136/.182, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 8 K, 0 BB, 7 G

    Last Week: .222/.222/.333, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 4 K, 0 BB, 4 G

     

    Since Josh Phegley was called up from Triple-A, Tyler Flowers has collected two hits in 12 at-bats while striking out four times.

    Not necessarily the way to take playing time away from a rookie who is quickly taking the White Sox universe by storm.

    The conversation is getting old, but there are very few things to be positive about.

    Stranger things have happened, but it appears that Flowers was unable to take advantage of the opportunity presented to him after the departure of A.J. Pierzynski.

Hot: Alexei Ramirez, SS

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    July Stats: .316/.328/439, 7 2B, 4 RBI, 2 K, 1 BB, 13 G

    Last Week: .371/.371/.514, 5 2B, 4 RBI, 1 K, 7 G

     

    Alexei Ramirez could be playing himself off the 25-man roster as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches with his improved play. 

    With many contending teams struggling to find consistent production from the shortstop position, Ramirez recent play is turning into one of the White Sox’s more valuable trade pieces.

    The turnaround has been dramatic.

    After receiving some well-deserved criticism for a lack of power, he has finally started to find the gaps and has already hit seven doubles in July.

    To put that number in perspective, Ramirez already has the more doubles this month than in any other month this season in only 57 at-bats. One of those two baggers was the game-winning hit on Monday against the Philadelphia Phillies.

     

Cold: Conor Gillaspie, 3B

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    July Stats: .229/.317/.429, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 9 K, 1 BB, 11 G

    Last Week: .150/.280/.300, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 5 K, 4 BB, 7 G

     

    Conor Gillaspie is going the wrong way.

    After hitting .311 in April, Gillaspie has had his batting average fall all the way to .248, punctuated by a .177 batting average in June.

    In the seven games prior to the All-Star break, the Wichita State product had more strikeouts (five) than hits (three). That stat line is the continuation of a trend. Over his last 117 at-bats, Gillaspie has collected a mere 22 hits.

    Depending on what happens with Ramirez, he could end up losing playing time to Jeff Keppinger, who has raised his batting average almost 70 points in the last two months.

Hot: Adam Dunn, 1B/DH

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    July Stats: .310/.396/.571, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 13 K, 6 BB, 12 G

    Last Week: .348/.483/.522, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 7 K, 6 BB, 7 G

     

    You have to give Adam Dunn credit.

    Even when things were at their worst—.165 BA, 37 K in June—Dunn remained upbeat. He went so far as to say at the beginning of July that the White Sox were “capable of running off some significant wins in a row” and could get back into contention, via ESPN.com’s Doug Padilla.

    Well, he was wrong about that, but it is not because of a lack of effort on his part.

    Going into the All-Star break, Donkey has a .522 slugging percentage in his last 12 games and is hitting the ball to the opposite field far more consistently.

    He also looks much more comfortable with a bat in his hands, which is nice for a guy who is making $15 million this season.

Both: Alejandro De Aza, CF

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    July Stats: .313/.377/.940, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 9 K, 3 BB, 12 G

    Last Week: .414/.469/.793, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 4 K, 3 BB, 7 G

     

    Alejandro De Aza cannot make up his mind.

    After hitting .229 and .263 in April and May, respectively, De Aza hit .296 in June before turning it on in the last 12 games.

    In 12 July contests, De Aza has compiled a .940 OPS while stroking four doubles in only 48 at-bats. He is riding a six-game hitting streak going into the All-Star break, collecting at least two hits in four of those contests.

    He does continue to make mental mistakes, though, including a costly baserunning gaffe on Sunday that may have cost the White Sox a run in a game they lost 4-3 in 10 innings.

    Pure numbers? De Aza is on a hot streak.

    Big picture? He continues to make errors—physical and mental—which end up costing the Sox in the long run.

     

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