Chicago White Sox First Half Report Cards: Position Players

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The White Sox were 9.5 games behind AL Central leaders Minnesota and Detroit following a loss on June 8, but they have won eight consecutive games and 25 of their last 30 to end the half in first place.  Only one team in major-league history has been further behind at any point in the first half and entered the break with a division lead (the 1973 Cardinals).  How did they do it?

Soxman breaks it down “back to school” style with player report cards for the first half of the season.

By: Soxman

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Through May, the White Sox season was more offensive than the vulgarities spewed by Mel Gibson towards his ex Oksana Grigorieva.

Then everything clicked, inter-league play came like your favorite toy on Christmas morning, and they went 25-5 to end the first half, matching the best record for any team in MLB history in its final 30 before the All-Star Break.

Let’s examine just how the White Sox became the hottest team in major league baseball and a serious playoff contender.
Alex Rios A+

My early choice for AL Comeback Player of the Year, robbed by not being an All-Star selection, hitting .305, 15 HR, 49 RBI, 23 SBs at the half-way point on the season.  He’s only two HRs and one stolen base away from topping his 2009 season totals!

Paul Konerko A

While Konerko’s power stroke vanished two weeks before the all-star break, he still hit .317 with a .439 slugging percentage.  Ranked fifth in the AL in HRs (20), and hitting .299, 63 RBI, .942 OPS.

Juan Pierre A-

Within his abilities, he is doing exactly what the White Sox expected, slapping and bunting base hits, along with stealing a major league baseball leading 32 bases.  I’d like to see his on-base percentage (.326) and batting average (.257) a little higher.  However, Pierre, hit .326 over the last two weeks, hopefully a good sign of a strong second half ahead.

Ramon Castro A-

.302, 2HR, 8 RBI, 853 OPS in only 43 ABs.  He would be a solid back-up catcher on any team.

Brent Lillibridge A

The little sparkplug is making the most of what could be his last chance to prove he’s a major league player.  He’s a versatile fielder with speed. In only 22 ABs, his line is awesome: .455, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 1 SB, with a Pujols-like 1.342 OPS.

Dayan Viciedo A-

In a limited audition, “the Tank” is living up to his hype: .300, 2 HR, 5 RBI, .800 OPS in just 40 ABs.  He needs to improve his plate discipline (0 walks) in order to keep his ranking.

Carlos Quentin B+

Completely lost for the first two months of the season, Quentin was one of the hottest hitters in the majors over the last month going: .367, 11 HR, 24 RBI, with a 1.574 OPS.  Just how bad was Quentin early in the season?  His season totals might offer a hint: .244, 19 HR, 61 RBI, .867.  If Quentin stays hot, Rios may have competition in the AL Comeback Player of the Year race.

Omar Vizquel B

Ok, the .254, 1HR, 15 RBI, 2 SB line is not overly impressive, but he has filled in remarkably for Mark Teahen, spelled Gordon Beckham and executed well when hitting in the two-hole.  His mentoring of Alexei Ramirez is slowly starting to show.

Alexei Ramirez Bwhite_sox_man

Hitting .274, 8 HR, 33 RBI, 3 SB on the season.  His stolen base total is down, which is perhaps a product of other speed demons hitting ahead of him.

Andruw Jones C

Jones’ bat vanished in late May and for a good part of June, as did his grasp on near full-time ABs.  He’s hitting 46 points below his career batting average, but on par with his average expectations since 2007.  Still, his defense has been solid and you have to respect 400 career HRs, which he achieved in the last game before the break.  Expecting a low batting average, his line overall is respectable for a reserve: .210, 12 HR, 29 RBI, 8 SB

Mark Teahen C-

Teahen started coming around before requiring thumb surgery.  His batting average (.255) is still 13 pts below his career average, ironically 13 pts better than last quarter.  This grade is likely to stick as he may not be back until rosters expand in September.

Mark Kotsay C-

Kotsay is hitting 49 points below his career average, hasn’t homered in nearly a month, but still has a prefect fielding percentage on the season.  With less power and defensive capability than Andruw Jones, he could be on the bubble if the Sox trade for another left handed hitter.

A.J. Pierzynski: D

A.J.  has improved a little bit, but is still hitting 37 points below his career average.  His pitching staff is much improved (4.01 team ERA, 6th best in the AL), but he still has not been the center of one controversial call all season!  The Cubs season series is over, so we can only hope for a dropped third strike call in our road series with the Angels.

Gordon Beckham: F

Beckham is starting to show signs of life (.333 BA over his last 30 ABs), but has a long way to go in order to finish the season with a respectable batting average.  He’s the struggling student who works hard and you want to see succeed.  Our play-off hopes could hinge on it.

Class dismissed for tonight.  Up Next: Pitchers

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Comments

  1. paulmbanks says

    Imagine what Quentin would be if he could field. It’s amazing that he’s on pace to drive 100 runs, really it is when you consider how low his BA has been all season. But he needs to drive in 100 runs to counter-balance his atrocious fielding.

    Beckham may go back to Charlotte when Teahen returns, that’s MT’s greatest attribute is his versatility (and ability to hit Mark Buerhle) in the IF, and he could move over to 2nd

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