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White Sox offense again has been a major letdown

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 21: Todd Frazier #21 of the Chicago White Sox hits a two-run single against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning on August 21, 2016 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 607683891

The White Sox entered this season hoping their augmented offense would boost them into the playoffs. Instead, all the offseason changes they made have boosted their scoring only marginally.

The Sox have risen from 3.84 runs per game last season to 4.01 this season, but the American League average is up from 4.39 to 4.53. At .52 runs below the AL average, the Sox basically have stood still after being .55 below the AL average last season.

Here are a few numbers behind the Sox’ offensive doldrums:

Third baseman Todd Frazier: Frazier has brought power, with a team-leading 31 home runs, but the rest of his offensive game has dropped off.

Frazier had a .255 batting average, .309 on-base percentage, .498 slugging percentage and .806 OPS for the Reds last season. With the Sox, he has dropped to .212/.295/.454/.749.

His 4.5 runs created per game aren’t far off his 4.8 of last season and 4.9 for his career. A lineup of nine Fraziers would be expected to average 4.5 runs — right on the AL average.

First baseman Jose Abreu: After hitting 36 homers in 2014 and 30 last season, Abreu has slid to 16 so far this season. He’s still the Sox’ top overall offensive threat with a .785 OPS, 115 OPS+ (which adjusts for ballpark and normalizes so 100 represents an average hitter) and 5.0 runs created per game, but those are down from .850, 134 and 6.1 last season.

Second baseman Brett Lawrie: Limited by injuries to 94 games and 384 plate appearances, Lawrie has produced at his normal levels when he has played. Since his .953 OPS in 171 plate appearances as a rookie with the Blue Jays in 2011, Lawrie’s highest OPS is .729 and his lowest is .706. His .723 in his first season with the Sox is what he does.

Outfielder Adam

Eaton: Eaton’s offense is off a bit, with an OPS of .770 after a .792 last season. His OPS+ is 112, down from 121 last season.

Catchers Dioner Navarro and Alex Avila: Last season, Sox catchers (primarily Tyler Flowers and Geovany Soto) combined for 19 homers with a .230 batting average, .293 OBP, .376 SLG and .669 OPS.

The Sox hoped to improve on that when they signed Navarro and Avila. Injuries have limited Avila to 149 plate appearances, with three homers (one as a designated hitter) and a .720 OPS. In 290 plate appearances, Navarro has five homers and a .599 OPS.

Overall, Sox catchers are at seven homers and .222/.307/.324/.631.

Shortstop Tim Anderson: The 23-year-old rookie has a .277 batting average and some pop with seven homers. But he has only seven walks in 266 plate appearances, and his batting average is heavily dependent on balls in play. His .368 BABiP is 69 points above the AL average. Speed will buy some extra BABiP, but 69 points above the league average is rarely sustainable.

Anderson’s 3.9 runs created per game represent a step up from the 3.2 of Alexei Ramirez, the shortstop last season. That’s an encouraging sign for Sox fans, but there haven’t been enough steps up to meet their hopes of an offensive breakthrough this season.

Follow me on Twitter @GrochowskiJ.