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Super Stats Pack: Hitters

Daniel Palka has mashed hell outta the ball, of course — but he’s also been a stellar clutch hitter for the White Sox

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Baltimore Orioles
WWE, Meet WPA: PALKSMASH is now part of the South Side lexicon, but behind the swag of a pro wrestler is a truly clutch hitter.
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Since our last check-in, the Chicago White Sox have managed to get even worse on offense, and that’s with a two-three week hot streak (“the Eloy Jiménez Michael Kopech bump”) buried in there somewhere.

Going with one plate appearance per game as a minimum requirement for non-cumulative stats like homers, there are 13 qualifying players on the White Sox, and more often than not, they fall below average.

If you would like these stats defined, check FanGraphs for either offensive or pitching terms.

Batting Average: Kevan Smith overtakes Omar Narváez for the team lead in average, approaching .300. Last report, there were only six White Sox hitting .250 or better. Now there are four — and one of the four hasn’t played in like two months, while the team leader is a guy who wasn’t even on the team at midseason.

BABIP: Is there a silver lining to Yoán Moncada having such a high BABIP? Here’s a working theory: He hits the ball so hard, he’s forcing his own “luck” by having more balls drop in. Which makes it even more imperative he actually, you know, puts the ball in play. Likewise, perhaps Adam Engel’s speed fuels his high BABIP? He better hope so, because if this is a “lucky” offensive season for him, he won’t be long for the White Sox.

On-Base: Narváez continues to rule here, and good for him. Smith joins him in another case of WSB 2018: Our Mediocre Catchers Are Our Best Offensive Hope and Yet We’re Still Playing Welington in September.

Weighted OBA: Using .320 as an average hitter, again, four above-average hitters on the White Sox, cough. A slugger like José Abreu fares better here for his type of hits, as roughly speaking weighted OBA smashes OBP and SLG for a cool megastat.

Slugging Percentage: Palka was at .500 last survey, so he’s maintained well. Avisaíl García, on the other hand, has taken a much more huge tumble. Credit Palka, as a rookie, as one-dimensional as he might be, for continuing to mash the ball. Clearly we have lost KenWo because he spends all his time worshipping at the altar of PALKSMASH.

OPS: The fact that Chicago doesn’t have a single player better than .800, and hasn’t all year, is horrifying. Just four players better than .750! Imagine the joy we will feel when a White Sox player can put a five-tool season on the board (hell, two tools, hit the ball and catch the ball) on the field for a season.

ISO: No surprise here, Palka is the ISO king. But again, four guys hitting with any power whatsoever. Maybe doing a hitting stats pack was a bad idea.

HR: More Palka. What a funny list, again, as it falls from Moncada’s 17 in sixth place to Yolmer and Nicky in seventh with eight. Let’s be generous and throw in José Rondón and Jiménez and turn this into organizational leaders, and that puts five guys in the 20s, and no one even in the high 20s, in an all-or-nothing offensive climate. Oh boy.

wRC+: Again, four guys who are above-average. Castillo and Avi both tumbled from above-average with their various injuries, slumps and suspensions. If Smith hit anything but singles, he’d probably creep above average, but he doesn’t, so he won’t. Engel at 70 ... holy hell.

WAR: What a pitiable list. Now, if the entire White Sox club had been wracked with injuries, so we’re looking at half-seasons for everyone, perhaps a WAR leaderboard like this would be understandable, and even a little encouraging. But, nope. And let’s review: 2-3 WAR is a “solid starter,” so we have one of those, which is nice. One to two WAR is a “role player.” I mean, this is embarrassing. We are a AAAA team at the moment.

BB%: Bully for Omar, he’s really had a nice season. And Matt Davidson is rocking a bit of an Adam Dunn split given he’s whiffing heartily was a five-outcome (walk, whiff, homer, get hurt, relieve) player. I suppose ditto Moncada, who is at least walking at a 10% clip. Stretching, for sure.

K%: Again, cap tip to Narváez, but also Abreu, who even in this star-crossed season has maintained solid production and stayed “on his game.” The trio of Davidson, Palka, Moncada are pathetic.

BsR: We’ve finally arrived at an area in which Engel is above average, and even in this, his numbers have fallen since last survey and should be higher. Ditto Yoán. A guy like Yolmer is going to have to wise up on the basepaths, because he needs his baserunning to help offset (along with D) his lousy offense, and without doing so, he won’t even be a useful bench player.

OFF: Again, what new, four guys above average. Thank goodness I’m almost done.

DEF: Timmay!

WPA: The fact that Palka is crushing the rest of the roster here speaks to the importance of his hits (for example, the half-dozen or so ninth-inning homers, few if any in blowouts).

Situational Wins: You might also call this a form of “at-bats won,” and it resembles but further defines WPA. A guy like Narváez making a jump here vs. mere WPA probably tells you that he has been coming up with a lot of smaller things, like walks, that have contributed to wins in smaller ways than PALKSMASH!

CLUTCH: While WPA and Situational Wins place greater weight on clutch play, CLUTCH attempts to reward only clutch performance, thus Moncada scoring heavy here would indicate that while he has been underwhelming this season, when he has produced, it’s been at money time. Ditto Yolmer.

Can’t wait to the postseason hitting leaders wrap-up! Till then, folks.