I've gotta be honest. I haven't even known what to write about in the blog here with the Sox off to a hot start. I usually hand out a few nuggets of praise to a couple of guys, then rip into somebody, or something, else. It's a standard formula. It's what I'm good at. But with the Sox cruising along to a 23-7 record, I didn't feel right criticizing anyone. They were winning, a lot, so I couldn't, in good conscience, point out deficiencies.
One loss to the Devil Rays, The Fricken Devil Rays, changes everything. These are the teams that you have to pound. A certain local columnist and talking head continues to harp on the fact that we have only played "one team with a winning record." (Toronto won tonight, so I guess he's wrong again.) Even though his point is somewhat off base because the Sox have a lot to do with those teams poor records, you have to consistently beat weaker teams.
OK, I walked away from the computer for an hour or so. I've calmed down a little. The Sox can still win the final two games, take the series, and will have "beaten" a weaker opponent.
I've said it before, but I feel it needs to be said again. Scott Podsednik has been great. He's on pace to take about 100 walks, which would make him the first White Sox, other than Frank Thomas, to accomplish that feat since Tony Phillips did it back in 1996.
In addition to his stellar walk rate, He is on pace to steal about 90 bases. That would be the most by any major leaguer since Vince Coleman and Rickey Henderson stole 109 and 93 bases back in 1987 and 1988, respectively.
**Bad news below the fold**
Last season the Sox were among the worst teams in baseball at putting runners in scoring position. They made up for that by not only hitting among the best in baseball, but hitting with power. You'll recall the graph below by Studes. (The circle represents the number of HRs w/ RISP.)
The theory behind acquiring Podsednik and Iguchi was that they would get on base more, and be able to advance themselves into scoring position. Well, as the Sox sit atop the Major League standings, guess where they rank in terms of number of RISP ABs... That's right, last again.
I can't fault Podsednik, Iguchi or anyone who has hit in the 1 and 2 spots for the ridiculously small number of ABs with RISP. Podsednik is getting on base at a .374 clip, Iguchi at .368. Overall the top two spots have been very productive. Players batting First have an OBP of .379, while two-hole hitters come in at .377.
The real culprit has been the middle of the order. Carl Everett, Paul Konerko, Jermaine Dye, and Aaron Rowand all feature OBPs at or below .315. That's not going to get it done in the middle of the line up.
The Sox won't be able to compete if the middle of the order doesn't pick it up some time soon.