(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
The Royals went three up, three down in six innings last night. So I figure it is an opportune time to take a look at three positives and negatives concerning our White Sox as we get into mid May. As always, I'll start with the positives.
1. Adam Dunn is hitting .257/.401/.628 with 11 homers and 26 knocked in on May 12th. I will fully admit I thought he was a year away from retirement coming into this season. I just don't see how a guy could go an entire season looking as horrible as he did and then bounce back like nothing happened. That is exactly what Dunn is doing. Since the beginning of May, Dunn is hitting .314 with 6 home runs and 11 RBIs. At the game last evening, I saw a lot of #32 jerseys in the crowd. It seems like everyone who had received a Dunn jersey last Christmas is finally able to wear them without getting peanuts thrown at them. With games being played in the National League parks pretty soon, it makes me wonder what the Sox are going to do with him? Will he split time with Paul Konerko at first or will he get the old outfielders glove ready and go shag some flies in left field? Personally, I hope it's the latter.
2. Gordon Beckham has really come on strong lately. He was hitting .153/.231/.203 at the end of April. He is now hitting .222/.284/.343. He has hit .325 in May and has shown some pop with 3 doubles and 2 homers over that stretch. More importantly, he has looked very dangerous at the plate. He absolutely crushed a ball off the right center field wall last night. Earlier in the week, he did the same vs. the Indians. Having him in the 2nd spot in the order the last four games has been nice. He may only be 4-16 in those four games, but thats a heck of a lot better than the production we had in that spot of the order prior to he was inserted there. The signs are there that Beckham is emerging from his 2+ year slump. I still have a glimmer of hope that he can be the hitter we thought he would end up being. Hopefully he does too.
3. Chris Sale is back in the rotation. That is wonderful news for White Sox fans. Personally, I'm not quite sure why he was ever removed from it in the first place, but what's done is done. The fact of the matter is Sale could be our best starter for the next bunch of seasons and it would be a shame to not cash in on that opportunity because the staff was afraid to take a chance. Personally, I would rather see him get injured starting and know you gave it a shot than play it safe and leave him in the bullpen, where there is no guarantees he would escape injury anyway.
Unfortunately, now we have to take a look at the 3 down.
1. Dayan Viciedo is still struggling mightily. He sits at .208/.240/.323, which means his current OPS is .065 points lower than Beckham's is. He only has 2 doubles and 3 homers on the season and hasn't had an extra base hit since April 26, when he hit a meaningless solo shot in a 10-3 loss to the Red Sox. I can't even make things a tad bit more cheery by saying "he is hitting it hard, just right at people". If anything, it's the opposite. He's hitting it soft and has gotten some cheap singles to keep him above the Mendoza line. I thought for sure that the Tank would be an extra base hit machine. He is a slow starter, but it's kinda not the start anymore. It's time he starts turning and burning on some fastballs and striking fear in all third basemen (and patrons in the left field bleachers).
2. A.J. Pierzynski has REALLY cooled off. Since topping out at an incredible .400/.421/.829 on April 19th, he has fallen swiftly and steadily to his current mark of .264/.301/.453. Obviously he couldn't keep up what he was doing at the beginning of April, but he has had only 2 doubles and 1 homer since April 18th. I think it is time to get Tyler Flowers a little more playing time than he has been receiving. He's only had 24 plate appearances. My fear is that A.J. fooled everyone so much with his early season hot streak that they are now afraid to take him out of the lineup. Last night, my dad and I were discussing whether or not Pierzynski will be back next year. In order to answer that question we need to see a tad bit more of Flowers. He has shown that he can catch a good game and isn't a liability to the staff. Lets see if he can do it more than once a week.
3. The 16-17 record is bothersome. If I were to tell you before the season that:
*Konerko would still be raking...
* Dunn and Alex Rios were looking like 2011 never happened...
* De Aza has been everything anyone could have hoped for and more...
* Pierzynski would have 5 homers and 21 RBIs in mid May...
There would be no way in hell I'd think they would be under .500. It seems like everything we needed to go right has done so and we still aren't winning more than we're losing. So Alexei Ramirez, John Danks, Matt Thornton and Viciedo, how about you guys get your heads out of your backsides and start doing what you're supposed to do so we can really start surprising some people.