If I haven’t lost you with the complicated metrics already, the White Sox have not won three games in a row since May 9. The Red Sox are still the better team, but tonight features a match up between Jose Quintana and Eduardo Rodriguez. That should give Chicago a huge edge, even though this is the team that lost a game between Chris Sale and Mike Pelfrey just the other week.
1. Tim Anderson! Tim Anderson. The new shortstop already has the highest OPS on the team, which is both exciting and kind of horrifying as a referendum on the rest of the roster. It has only been about 50 PAs and he has yet to draw a walk, but so far this is about as good as one could realistically hope for from the 22-year old.* The league is going to adjust and he’ll have to adjust back, but a .290 average with power at shortstop is much better than many, many alternatives.
*He turns 23 on Thursday.
2. Back-to-back wins is great, but the offense is hardly singing, even with Anderson’s .771 OPS being plopped in at one of their weakest positions. Their team TAv continues to drop and now sits at .251, 27th in MLB ahead of only the Yankees, the Phillies who have been carried to somewhat respectability by some really exciting young pitchers (but are currently cratering), and the Losing On Purpose Braves. That’s better than last year’s edition, but significantly worse than the 2014 roster, and identical to the 63-win disaster that was 2013. The White Sox can win games when they hold their opponent to one run (sometimes), but unless you plan on having your entire pitching staff pitch like 1910 Ed Walsh that’s a pretty hopeless strategy.
3. With the University of Miami’s season finally over, the White Sox were able to sign their top draft pick, Zack Collins. The White Sox have consistently had a horrible offense for years now, which is a product of an unven-to-poor ability to make quality adds at the major league level, limited funds, and absolutely zero ability to add hitting talent through the draft. Some of that is because first round picks have gone to pitchers, and I’m not complaining about that; Carlos Rodon is already a triumph as far as adding amateur talent goes. Part of that is because the bats they have taken were extremely risky and had them blow up in their face. Collins is a different phylum of prospect than they have had in a long time, and although this is the same organization that turned Tyler “his bat will play anywhere but he can’t catch” Flowers into a defensive specialist, Collins should move quickly through the system and at the very least his bat–specifically, his power–should play in the majors.
If Collins’ bat flops it may just be one of those things, but if the front office hasn’t taken a hard look at how they develop hitters already, this would represent one of their biggest failures and should trigger some serious reflection. If he succeeds, it would mean one less spot in the lineup that needs to be fixed with bargain bin free agents or trading away talent.
4. Speaking of bargain bin free agents, the White Sox added Slade Heathcott on Father’s Day. Heathcott was once a pretty highly regarded prospect, although he has struggled with durability and consistently converting his tools into performance. One of the few organizational strengths that the White Sox can hang their hat on is their training staff, and maybe if they can keep him on the field Heathcott can tap into some of his former shine. It costs the team nothing, so it’s a worthwhile gamble. Sometimes you can catch lightning in a bottle.
5. Zach Putnam is on the disabled list again, and Chris Beck has been selected as his replacement. The White Sox continue to roll with a 13-man pitching staff, which seems insane to me, although if James Shields keeps getting knocked out in the 3rd inning I don’t know that I can fault them for it. At this point it is looking like this is the norm until Justin Morneau comes off of the DL. Beck is another guy who can’t get enough strikeouts in the minors, so I am not optimistic for his major league future, or at the very least his present.
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