It might be only the first week of Cactus League play, but the White Sox have stumbled onto a promising recipe for success: Score more than the day before.
Consider the offensive output:
- March 3: 1
- March 4: 5
- March 5: 7
- March 6: 8
- March 7: 9
- March 8: 10
At this rate, the White Sox will win Opening Day in Oakland by a score of 36-7.
What's fueling this skyrocketing pace? Skyrockets, pretty much. The Sox have homered 12 times in six games, and by 12 different players. As a result, the White Sox are leading the Cactus League with a .609 slugging percentage, and nobody is even within swinging distance (Rangers are second at .476).
The Sox added two more names to the list on Tuesday. Jimmy Rollins hit his first dinger in a White Sox uniform, going the opposite way ...
... but Avisail Garcia stole the show with a blast to left field that cleared multiple walls:
That came after Garcia swatted a triple to right-center in his first at-bat. He ended up going 3-for-4, warranting a closer look from the venerable American League Scout at his new stance and swing mechanics:
Garcia has worked on the new mechanics for a little more than six weeks. In January, he and hitting coach Todd Steverson worked out for three days in Miami to establish a new approach. By standing more upright, the White Sox hope Garcia sees pitches better than he has in the past. They’ve seen some evidence of that in the first. They also had him lower his hands to chest level for a more direct line to the ball. [...]
"Difference to me is the finish," said one American League scout. "Definitely more intent to lift the ball."
Indeed, Garcia drove two kinds of pitches -- an outer-half fastball and a hanging slider -- and the hands finished at shoulder height, unlike the flatter path in his Cactus League debut. That's the idea/battle going forward, and Garcia's doing what he can by going 6-for-12 with a walk and two strikeouts over his first four games.
Here's where we note that it's only spring training, but most White Sox spring trainings have been moribund affairs, at least in terms of Cactus League performance. The White Sox haven't had a winning record in spring training since 2004, and they've only finished at .500 once.
Ironically, the one break-even year -- 14-14 -- took place in 2013, and that only set the stage for the franchise's nosedive. Nobody embodied the rope-a-dope more than Jeff Keppinger, who batted .412 during Cactus League, then failed to even get his OPS above .400 through mid-May. So yes, temper your reactions for the 4-1-1 start and Garcia's .500 average accordingly.
Still, I'm happy seeing the Sox present early reasons for enjoyment, rather than us having to go hunting for them amid "getting work in." After three years of mediocre-at-best ball, we may as well root for thunderous spring successes, if only to see if something different begets something different.