Chicago White Sox: Midseason Report and 2nd-Half Preview
The Midsummer Classic marks the halfway mark of the MLB season.
Currently, the White Sox are in pretty rough shape coming into the second half and have very little momentum. They are still four wins below the .500 mark and are clinging onto third place in the AL Central.
Granted they are only five games behind, the Sox have a glimmer of hope for the bottom half of the season.
This list will look back on the first part of the season and break down the bright spots and the "not-so-good." In addition, it will also preview the second half of the season and point out some things that must go right.
First-Half MVP: Paul Konerko
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This is a no-brainer. Paulie is having a career season so far, and is on pace to post career bests in just about every major offensive category.
At the break, Konerko (.319, 22 HR, 67 RBI) has been tearing it up. Konerko has really carried the team's offense. Aside from him, the White Sox offense has been average at best.
If Paulie has another monster second half like last year, he will definitely be in the AL MVP discussion, and the Sox will still have a chance in the AL Central pennant race.
Biggest Disappointment: Adam Dunn
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This is another no-brainer. Like Konerko, Dunn is on pace to put up numbers unlike any he has posted through his entire career. However, the only difference here is that they are career lows.
Adam Dunn (.159, 9 HR, 34 RBI) has sucked this year. It's as easy as that. If Dunn keeps it up, he will probably break MLB records in one the worst statistical seasons in history. Yeah, its been that bad. In fact, Dunn has a MLB-worst WAR (Wins Above Replacement), making him the most useless player in the league so far.
Every player goes through a rough stretch in a season, but they don't last four months. Dunn looks lost at the plate, and still has not found a way to figure it out.
It may be too late for Dunn, and perhaps we have seen the last of the dominant hitter he once was. Even if Dunn hits .200 and more than 10 HRs the second half, it is far better than what we saw before. Until then, Adam Dunn has many questions to answer.
Biggest Suprise: Phil Humber
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To be honest with you, I didn't even know Phil Humber was on the White Sox roster until he made his first start. In fact, the only reason I have ever heard his name before is because I live in Minnesota. For those of you who don't know, Humber was the staple in the trade that sent Johan Santana to the Mets. I would often hear Twins fans complain about how little they got in return.
Humber didn't last long in Minny, and found his way to Chicago after a few stops. This season, Humber (8-5, 3.10 ERA) has proved his value for the White Sox, showing Twins fans what could have been.
If I would have told you that Humber would be a recurring member of the Sox rotation last year, you wouldn't have believed me. If I added that he would be the most productive member of the rotation, you probably would have slapped me. Thus, Phil Humber is the biggest surprise of the season so far, and unless Adam Dunn hits 50 more homers, he will continue to be the biggest surprise of the entire season.
Can the Sox Climb Back into the Playoff Race?
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Can the White Sox compete in the race for the AL Central crown?
Yes. "Will they" is a better question. Right now the division is in a stalemate. Both the Indians and Tigers are refusing to pull away with the lead, acting as if they want a third-party member to join them.
The Sox just need a small push right now, and there is no better time than after the All-Star break. The White Sox sit a manageable five games back, and have plenty of time to do it. This was a roster built to compete, and in the long run, they should be able to do so.
Key Factors to a Successful Second Half
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There are three things that the White Sox need to do to have a winning second half, and ultimately contend for a playoff spot.
The first thing is getting more production from players that haven't produced. You have heard it many times before, but it needs to happen if the Sox want to get hot. Alex Rios, Adam Dunn and Gordon Beckham have all underachieved this year. The Southsiders can't rely on Paul Konerko to get them to the playoffs.
The second is to beat the teams in their division. The White Sox have a very poor division record (8-16), and most of those losses come from the bottom two teams in the division. If the White Sox want to compete in the AL Central, they need to beat the teams they are competing against.
Finally, it will really come down to pitching. The White Sox need good solid pitching from the rotation. They can't expect to win ballgames after the pitchers post six-run outings. Though the bullpen seems as if it has sorted out after the early-season disaster, the White Sox can not afford to lose games in the late innings.