White Sox June 2014 Check-in

Time to check-in on the White Sox again. They have slowed a bit, sitting at 3 games under .500 and in 4th place. The injuries have stung, but it can’t be fully to blame.

Offense

Starting with the good, Jose Abreu has been amazing. Despite missing some time with an injury he 4th amongst qualified 1B in wOBA and also 4th in offensive fWAR. The 2nd is impressive considering he has placed about 10 games less than the guys ahead of him. He has 19 HRs, but doesn’t walk much and has an above average strikeout rate. Overall though, his line looks sustainable provided teams don’t find out how to strike him out more, but his strikeout rate has not increased in June. Gordon Beckham doesn’t have enough PA to qualify, which is too bad because he would be 5th among AL 2B in wOBA if he did. His slash line is up, but so are his strikeouts and his walk rate is down. He has been a little lucky so far, so it’s hard to call his stats “real” so far. Alexei Ramirez is having a huge season. He is 2nd in wOBA and 3rd in fWAR amongst AL shortstops. His walk rate is up slightly, and he has almost as many walks as all of 2012 so far. Major red flag with his unsustainably high BABIP (batting average on balls in play) meaning that he might come down to earth a bit at some point. Conor Gillaspie fits right in with the rest of this team. High wOBA, high fWAR, not enough ABs to qualify, and an unsustainably high BABIP. His 16 doubles have made up for the fact that he hasn’t hit a home run, but his batting average probably isn’t sustainable. Offensively, the White Sox outfielders have been pretty bad. Dayan Viciedo’s April was a huge mirage. His numbers fell off a cliff since then. His walks fell way off, and his strikeouts are back up. He has stopped hitting doubles and even though he added some home runs, it hasn’t helped. Adam Eaton has been OK so far, and is actually having a great June so far. Like a lot of guys, his BABIP is a little high, but because of his speed it might be a bit more justifiable. Alejandro De Aza though, has been a train wreck. His season last year was a little overrated thanks to 17 home runs, but this season is hard to explain. His BABIP is much lower than his career mark, but the rest of his stats line-up mostly. So he could bounce back a bit at some point. Tyler Flowers has come way back down to Earth after a torrid start. His only two hits in June are home runs, and he has struck out in 22 of his 37 plate appearances. He has been just awful this month. And after nearly 800 major league plate appearances, it seems like it might be time to move on. Adam Dunn has been pretty regular this season. His BABIP is a little high, but most everything else checks out. As for the bench guys, there is literally nothing to be excited about.

Defense

Defensive sample sizes are still small at this point, but Jose Abreu has been one of the best so far. Gordon Beckham has not been all that great, but isn’t awful. It’s early but Alexei Ramirez’s decline continued this year, where he has actually been worth negative value so far (sorry dad). Conor Gillaspie also has not been very good so far. The Sox outfielders are just middle of the road. From a team perspective the Sox are not great defensively.

Pitching

Chris Sale hasn’t done enough to qualify yet, but he has been so great so far. It’s a small sample size, but his strikeouts are up, and walks are down. He also hasn’t given up many home runs, but he has been a bit lucky so far. The book on Sale continues to just be whether or not he can stay healthy consistently. Jose Quintana has quietly been one of the best dozen or so starters in the AL this year. His ERA is a bit inflated, but his FIP and fWAR put him ahead of Max Scherzer and Mark Buehrle so far. His numbers are very much in line with his career benchmarks but his BABIP has been a little high, which explains why his ERA looks high. It looks like he is the #2 starter the White Sox were hoping for. John Danks has had an OK June, but he still hasn’t been great so far this season. He has had a problem with walks, but his lower home run rate has helped balance that out. His ERA is deceptively low though. Hector Noesi hasn’t been terrible, but there is not a lot to judge him on yet. He has probably been about as good as Danks so far, which isn’t bad for the #4 guy on a team. He has a problem with home runs, and walks though. Andre Riezno has been lousy though. He has always had a walk problem, but home runs have been an issue too. He hasn’t really been unlucky either, just bad. There are just no other options.

The Sox bullpen has been a bit weak so far. Ronald Belisario has settled down a bit but hasn’t been spectacular by any means. He is just the shiniest turd in the bullpen. Zach Putnam has been good, but his ERA is definitely deceiving. His BABIP indicates that his luck has been good, but there is not a lot to get excited about. Scott Downs hasn’t been bad outside of a major walk problem, and his ERA is probably a little deceiving as well. It’s hard to find much else worth mentioning. Most of the rest of the guys have deceptive ERAs that are much lower than they should be. Walks are a major problem with this bullpen. They are almost a full walk per 9 IP worse than the 2nd worst team. They are also tied for last in K/9

Outlook

The Sox are probably overachieving as a whole right now. It’s hard to see anyone getting a lot better, and the bullpen has been far too lucky so far. Their defense might improve but it’s hard to see their record being better in 6 weeks.