As the White Sox return to U.S. Cellular Field after a 10-game road trip, Scot Gregor looks at some problematic home numbers for various White Sox players. We've talked about a couple of them before*, but Paul Konerko has flown under the radar because his weak side is far from awful.
- Home: .250/.344/.463
- Away: .346/.404/.549
If a lot of other Sox hitters weren't in the same boat, this could actually be seen as a positive development. Konerko has long been regarded by neutral parties as a creature of the Cell, and it would be difficult to argue the point. Since 2006, Konerko has had a noticeably higher OPS at home, including some massive disparities in 2010 (306 points higher) and 2008 (352 points higher).
Despite the unusually modest numbers at home, Konerko is still present on the power-hitting leaderboards. He ranks sixth in the AL in homers (12), second in RBI (44) and 11th in OPS (.897). Now would be a good time to start reacquainting himself with the Cell's homer-friendly ways, because if he doesn't hit there, who will?
(*Carlos Quentin still has the most wackadoo home-road split this season, in this guy's opinion. To update his numbers from before, he has 34 RBI on the road, and three at home.)
Hacking apart the numbers further, James takes a look at some random time frames and splits. He gets to one I'd been thinking about, although I come to a different line than he does.
Now that the month of May has passed, we can factor Alex Rios' blockbuster May of 2010 out of our rolling calendar year. From June 1, 2010 to June 1, 2011, anybody want to guess what Rios has hit over those 152 games?
Here's what's scarier: Rios didn't peak last year until June 11, when he went 4-for-4 with a homer to raise his season line to .322/.379/.588. That line hasn't scratched the bottom yet, unless Rios can get his act together over the next week or so.
Rios earned a spot on Joe Sheehan's team of underachievers, but he's a little more optimistic about his bounce-back chances than I am:
OF: Alexis Rios, White Sox. One of the best stories of '10 has become one of the worst of '11, as the 30-year-old Rios has lost the speed and pop that made him one of the game's best center fielders last year. Rios, who has often struggled to turn his tools into performance, has been a bit unlucky, with a .208 BABIP despite a reasonable line-drive rate (18.7 percent of balls in play). The 4/3 SB/CS and .105 isolated power, though, are shortfalls in skill, not luck. Look for the batting average and power to rebound from here on out -- he's basically the same player he was last year.
I kind of agree with Sheehan, in that I don't think Rios is going to carry a sub-.600 OPS through the rest of the season. He has nowhere to go but up (I hope). Problem is, "he's basically the same player he was last year" could be the problem, if he's the same player he was the last 12 months.
It might be worth noting that Rios went about making outs in a different fashion in May. He lowered his groundball rate from a career-high to below his 2010 levels, but he traded groundouts for harmless pop-outs, which really doesn't help matters.
Adam Dunn is on the team as well, as you might imagine.
Greg Walker defends the aforementioned two hitters, saying Rios and Dunn are among many proven major-leaguers having a miserable go of it over the first two months. He also said, "We have some work to do," but I don't think that was intentional.
Mark Gonzales makes several suggestions as to how the Sox can sustain their momentum, and he basically hits upon our consensuses -- keep the six-man rotation, as much Brent Lillibridge as he can stand, and platooning Dunn.
Speaking of Lillibridge, Carl has him rocking the double-knits.
Speaking of Lillibridge, J.J. cites his improved selectivity as the key to his small-sample success.
If anybody was concerned about lingering damage from Russ Mitchell's homer, it seems like you can stop worrying. Sergio Santos has rebounded from his painful blown save to the Dodgers with 5 1/3 hitless, scoreless innings.