2013’s Power Outage and 2014’s Repairs

Anytime a baseball fan thinks of the Chicago White Sox, as of late, it’s of a slugging team. Frank Thomas, Albert Bell, Jermaine Dye, Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn are just some of the names that come up.
The RISP (Runners in scoring position) batting average statistic has really never been a big worry for White Sox teams of the past, mostly because they would just power runners across the plate. Last year’s club had an issue with both RISP, especially with 2 outs and slugging.
Last season, the Sox hit .256 with runners in scoring position. The White Sox were tied for 11th in RISP, just above nine teams that are within .006 of each other. Players like Adam Dunn and Gordon Beckham had a real rough time helping the team trying to get people in. Both were in the lower .200’s in averages. Several others, such as Konerko, Garcia, Viciedo and DeAza tried to carry the slack with each carrying an above .300 average.
The team’s average crashed when it came to runners in scoring position and two outs. Unfortunately, a .211 average isn’t going to take a team too far up the standings and carry them through the playoffs. Call it pressure being placed on the players, them pressing to hard, or just incapable of getting a hit in those situations, the Sox definitely need to improve this stat especially if they have any dreams of October.
The Sox were 19th in home runs overall last season. It was a far cry from where they traditionally stand in the rankings, especially considering they hit in one of the most home run friendly ball parks in the majors. One doesn’t need to look far to find the problem. Adam Dunn was the only White Sox player to hit above 17 home runs last season. Even Paul Konerko lost his power stroke last year, only hitting 12 homers. That’s at least 15-20 home runs shy of his average for his career. He wasn’t the only one to lose power; Gordon Beckham dropped about 10 home runs, Alexei Ramirez has been on a hard decline each year, and Dayan Viciedo was about 10 off of his pace from 2012 which was a big part of what led to the lack of run production.
So who did Executive Vice President Kenny Williams and General Manager Rick Hahn get in the offseason to try to help the club out with their needs?
The first of the club’s new acquisitions came in October of last year when they signed 26 year old, first baseman Jose Abreu out of Cuba. There are scouts that are projecting that Abreu could be a .290 average, 25-30 home run player during his career. If he turns out to be that type of player, he will be a good replacement for Paul Konerko and join the list of solid White Sox first baseman.
The next player that Sox went after to assist in production was Adam Eaton in a trade with the Diamondbacks for pitcher Hector Santiago and left fielder Brandon Jacobs. The 25 year old Eaton will likely roam the grass of center field for the White Sox. He hasn’t seen much of the pros, having only played in 88 career games. He has a .254 average in those games which is way down from his .348 in the minors. He’s projected to be a high on base player who could end up on the top of the lineup sooner than later. The other talk about Eaton is he carries a scrappy, gritty type of attitude that will remind people of an Aaron Rowand, who was the centerfielder for the Sox from 2001 through the championship in 2005.
Not even a week later, the White Sox traded for 22 year old, third baseman Matt Davidson from the Diamondbacks as well. In the transaction, they sent closer Addison Reed in return. Davidson is projected by scouts to be a solid player as well. He could bring the Sox something it hasn’t had in several years, a consistent third baseman. Davidson is supposed to make the decision for Manager Ventura a hard one, or an easy one depending on how you look at it. He’ll compete with Conner Gillaspie, Jeff Keppinger, and Marcus Semien for the opening day position.
From here, only time will tell whether these three acquisitions by the Sox will pay off this season or down the road. The Sox may have tended to some issues, but they also got younger in the process. If this season goes downhill fast, the fact they’re getting younger is definitely a plus.

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