Since the horrific 11-22 start, the Chicago White Sox have been playing about .600 baseball. Keep up that winning percentage, and they’re projected for 86-88 wins, certainly enough to win a weak division like the AL Central. And here’s another reason to be optimistic- the past weekend they finally conquered a hurdle that they had been tripping over repeatedly these past couple months. Every time they get to two games under .500, they lose. They keep winning enough to get back there, only to stumble again.
And in their continued mastery of the Chicago Cubs, winning yet another series over their north-side windy city brethren, they not only reached 1 game below .500, but even-Stephen .500 winning percentage itself at 42-42 on Saturday, a 31-20 “run propelled them to this point.” Yes, that phrase does produce a little chuckle. Like people who love Jimmy Buffett’s music probably often say “hooray for mediocrity!” (Sorry Parrotheads, it was too fun to pass up).
But unfortunately, the “ascension” to being exactly average didn’t last very long as they lost 3-1 to the Cubs on Sunday. A big reason is that non-producing superstar free agent Adam Dunn, who once again didn’t produce anything in the three hole. (Yes, that spot where you’re supposed to place the best hitter on the team) He went 0-4 yesterday and saw his average drop to .165!!! This followed Saturday’s embarassment, where he went 0-4, this time with 3 strikeouts and 3 runners left on base. Way to be!
The Sox will continue to be mired in mediocrity as long as their recent big-money, big ticket free agent signings Alex Rios and Adam Dunn continue hitting like this; i.e. not much at all.
Rios is looking like a 5-tool player wasting his natural gifts right now. His on-base percentage is laughably bad, and with July upon us, there’s no way you can refer to his 2011 struggles as “a slow start.” For him to be this far off from his career averages is extremely puzzling. After going 2-4 in the series first game, he went 0-7 in the last two. His average is now all the way down to .218.
Dunn’s situation is more alarming. He’s so far below his career batting average, you’d think the number is a misprint. He’s still drawing walks like he always does, but he’s not hitting homers like he usually does. And he’s striking out more than ever. It’s frightening, but he’s on pace to have almost TEN TIMES AS MANY strikeouts as home runs this season. It’s hard to blame this on the switch from the NL to the AL, from being in the field to full time Designated Hitter.
Imagine where the Sox would be if one of them was producing ANYTHING right now? Probably first place, because the Sox are just 3.5 games out of first behind the Cleveland Indians today. They also need to leapfrog the Detroit Tigers who are a half game behind the Tribe, and the club that many baseball experts believed is the best team “on paper” in the extremely weak AL Central. I would disagree, I think the Sox are. Because if Dunn and Rios had a April-July even remotely close to their career averages, the Sox would be in first place by about five games right now.
The numbers bear this out.