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White Sox hitters still contributing to pace-of-play improvements

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Except for Conor Gillaspie, that is

Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into the season, Major League Baseball planned to ease players into the new pace of play initiatives. Players would get spring training and April to establish new habits, and were only at risk of written warnings if they failed to comply. If those bad habits carried into May, those lollygaggers would have fines to pay.

But the early returns heartened the league so much that they decided to hold off on implementing the fines for tardiness. The lack of punishment isn't causing a reversal of flow. At 2 hours and 58 minutes, the average MLB game is 10 minutes tighter than it was last year, so the players have deserved the benefit of the doubt.

The time of the White Sox game was right on the average last year, and they've continued that trend this season (2:59). White Sox hitters have maintained their contributions to the effort.

I took a first look at their attempts to stay in the box during the season's first fortnight. With another month in the books -- and more positive reports from the league -- FanGraphs says a majority of Sox hitters with meaningful sample sizes have shaved time off their individual paces, and the ones who haven't weren't problems in the first place...

... with one exception.

Name 2014 April May YoY
Conor Gillaspie 25.6 26.6 27.5 1.9
Jose Abreu 25.2 22.1 24.0 -1.2
Avisail Garcia 25.2 27.3 25.0 -0.2
Tyler Flowers 24.5 19.1 21.5 -3.0
Alexei Ramirez 24.0 24.4 23.1 -0.9
Adam Eaton 22.5 20.3 21.1 -1.4
Gordon Beckham 22.2 27.2 22.4 0.2
Melky Cabrera 21.1 19.6 21.0 -0.1
Adam LaRoche 24.0 24.1 22.8 -1.2
Micah Johnson -- 20.8 20.5 --
Emilio Bonifacio
21.9 -- 22.3 0.4
Geovany Soto
21.1 -- 20.4 -1.0
Team 23.5 22.9 22.6 -0.9

Last year, Gillaspie's 25.6-second pace was the 31st-slowest in the league. That qualifies as deliberate, but  he has plenty of company.

This year, there's only one hitter who takes more time between pitches than Gillaspie. That man is ...

... Victor Martinez, clocking in three-tenths slower (27.8). However, with Martinez expected to be on the disabled list through June, Gillaspie's lone obstacle is even more stationary than usual.

There are a couple possible explanations for why Gillaspie drags while everybody else is speeding it up. He's battling plantar fasciitis this year, which is slowing him down in other aspects of the game, and understandably so.

The other? He's been wearing batting gloves far more often in 2015. He wore them on Tuesday, and let's see what he's doing with 'em:

Conor Gillaspie May Pace GIF

Yeeeeeeeeeeep. Basically, he does everything he did without batting gloves, plus a little bit of velcro adjustment. To compare:

Conor Gillaspie pace

So it's good news for Gillaspie that MLB decided to hold off on levying fines, because Gillaspie would probably be one of the chief contributors to the pace jar. And it's good news for us that he's hitting .324/.381/.514 through 12 games in May after an awful April, which means he's only trying our patience in one respect, rather than two.