The White Sox will play their 70th game tonight, which is enough of a sample to start making some definitive conclusions about this wretched season.
So, what is wrong with the last-place White Sox?
The short answer: Everything except the starting pitching*. The long answer… really isn’t necessary.
*John Danks is the exception to the exception. He hasn’t thrown like a Major League pitcher this season and declared after his nine-run outing Monday: “I stunk.”
The Sox offense ranks in the bottom three among all 30 teams in hits, batting average, doubles, home runs, runs, RBI and slugging percentage. They’re only fourth from last in on-base percentage, so, that’s something.
The defense ranks dead last.
And baserunning? Also dead last.
It’s very hard to field a competitive team that can’t hit or field the ball. And even when they do put runners on, the Sox find ways to turn those into outs, too.
That’s really all there is to it. This isn’t a case of a team getting unlucky and losing a disproportionate number of close games. In fact, given their -79 run differential, the Sox’ expected W-L record is four wins worse than their current record. By that measure, the Sox are — believe it or not — lucky to be just nine games under .500 and 11 games out of first place.
Every player in the White Sox starting lineup is performing below their career averages. Every single one of them.
I’ve compiled the career slash line (BA/OBP/SLG/OPS) and 2015 slash line of every player below:
I asked Robin Ventura last weekend if instead of players “returning to normal,” he worries that we’re witnessing a new normal for some of these players:
“You don’t want to go there,” Ventura said. “There’s been a track record with guys. I know you can easily try and go down that if you want to if you want to go the negative route, but for in here we’re trying to win a game. So you’re trying to find that positive to turn it around and not let them go there.”
For younger players like Garcia, Abreu and perhaps even Eaton, it’s possible that they’ll improve over the course of the season and return to their career averages or better.
For players north of 30 — Ramirez, Cabrera, LaRoche — it’s far less likely they’ll return to the form of their prime years.
Diagnosing all these problems with the White Sox is the easy part, though. How to fix the mess is the challenge facing general manager Rick Hahn and the front office.
It will be interesting to see what the Sox do before the July 31 trade deadline. Mired in a streak in which they’ve lost nine of 11 during a critical point of the season, the Sox almost certainly won’t be adding. There’s also not much of value to trade away or promote.
In a year the Sox were supposed to contend for an American League Central crown, they’re instead on pace to finish worse than their 73-win, last-place finish of a year ago.