By Connor McKnight
WLS AM 890 White Sox Pre and Post Game Host
The White Sox are off to their best start in years. Not only did their 8-2 start match the best 10-game starting stretch since 1982, the Sox 7-3 start on the road is the best since 2005’s 8-2 road start.
Now, at 8-4, the Sox are tied at the top of the AL Central with the defending World Series Champion Royals.
And they’re not hitting. Not yet.
Instead, it’s been the pitching and defense that’s held the White Sox up to start the season. Whether looking at Chris Sale’s magnificent complete game shutout of the Rays on April 15th or Mat Latos’ two quality starts (12 IP, .75 ERA, .50 WHIP, .098 BA) the White Sox arms have kept them in every game but two.
Todd Frazier has been fantastic at third base and has saved no fewer than three hits to start the year. One of those completed a sweep of the Twins and helped David Robertson earn his fifth save in five outings. Roberston didn’t notch his fifth save until May 6th of 2015.
It’s very clear—remarkably so—that the pitching is good and the defense is much, much better than last season. As a team goes through the ups and downs—the inescapable drag of attrition—the hope is that defense stays as constant as possible. Pitching and hitting have natural, expected peaks and valleys. There will be times where even Chris Sale can’t get anyone out. (OK, not him. He doesn’t have those. Maybe someone else. Someone human.)
Looking at the start of the year for the offense, leaves you to strain a bit at the stat lines. Todd Frazier’s start has been typical of his career, unfortunately. He’s a career .236/.316/.474 hitter in April and March. Things heat up for him as the season progresses, however, and hopefully the friendly hitters park that is US Cellular Field and the wonderful weather Chicago is supposed to get over the next few days (Seriously, it’s supposed to be 80 on Monday. Get out to the ballpark.) help heat up his bat.
Jose Abreu has been struggling to find his comfort zone as well. It seems that he’s a bit unsure of the strike zone right now but the amorphous strike zone typically set forth by CB Bucknor can make a lot of hitters question their livelihoods.
The difference between the slow offensive start for this year’s White Sox has to do with the names on the back of the jerseys. Those names are Abreu and Frazier. They have track records. They sell trading cards and bubble gum. They’ve hit 134 home runs since the start of the 2014 season.
There’s every reason to believe they’ll be just fine.
Sunday night, the 17th of April, a full two weeks into the season, was the fourth time since the start of the month the White Sox have been in their own beds. The White Sox have played more road games than anyone in baseball. To boot, (people still say that, right?) the Sox are in a stretch of 19 straight games between off days. They play 17 of their first 27 on the road.
It’s not an excuse for anything. You won’t hear anyone use it as such.
It’s just kind of crazy and I thought you should know.