By Connor McKnight
Don’t fret over dingers.
That’s the best advice I can give you after two weeks of baseball
Whether it’s in phone calls to the Post Game Show or tweets to the Mailbag, there have been some White Sox fans worrying themselves over quality production from Avisail Garcia and/or Matt Davidson. Both players, it seems, come with their own, individual hang-ups. I’ll see if I can describe them to you.
“But Garcia has ALWAYS been streaky! He’s been through weeks like this before where he looks like the second coming and then, all of a sudden, he turns into empty at-bats and all the swing and miss you can handle. Why should I be excited about him now?”
For Davidson, it’s a bit different: “Sure, a .909 slugging percentage is wonderful but what about that 50% strikeout rate? There’s no way he’s worth getting hyped over.”
Early baseball does weird things to everyone. My best advice, though admittedly it’s probably more patronizing than you’d like, is to not worry about it. Just let yourself enjoy it for a little bit. Let the weirdness of the small sample size wash over you, secure in the knowledge that a month from now, we’ll have numbers attached to players that firmly constitute their worth and tell us exactly what we’ve been dying to know for months… probably.
There’s no mistaking the fact that the White Sox have, by and large, pitched themselves to right around the .500 mark. The bullpen has been fantastic and holding slim leads while the Sox starters have only once taken a game into the seventh inning (Jose Quintana’s second start of the year). The offense hasn’t exactly achieved the “feast or famine” cliche–even in low scoring games, the Sox have gotten runners on to threaten. It has, however, lived and died on the power bats of three players; Garcia, Davidson and Geovany Soto. With Soto on the DL with elbow inflammation, the list gets thinner. Still, my advice is revel in the little things.
For instance on Friday night, Davidson, facing Ryan Pressly’s 97 mph heater, looked absolutely lost through four pitches. Pressly had thrown a clean first inning, striking out two, and looked in command of his breaking stuff and the fastball. Davidson tipped the first pitch, a 93 mph fastball foul. The second, another fastball, perfectly hit the low and away corner of the strike zone for strike two. Davidson, now 0-2, managed to lay off pitch high and away that could have easily been called strike three. It wasn’t, and by the grace of the baseball gods, Davidson would see another pitch. The fourth, a curveball low and away, was a waste-pitch that anyone could have seen coming. Davidson took and prepared for the 2-2. Mind you, he hasn’t seemed comfortable, taken a quality swing or had a quality take all at-bat. The closest things got were knowing on 1-2, after three straight fastballs, a breaking ball was coming.
The fifth pitch of the at-bat was a belt-high 90 mph slider that did anything but. Davidson pounced, rode it out to right field, and gave the Sox the 2-1 lead.
Watching Davidson, strikeout problems and all, hang in an at-bat he seemingly had no right to be in and STILL drive a mistake pitch out of the ball park is a blast. It can be for you, too.
I don’t mean to just whistle Dixie. It would be nice to see Tim Anderson lower his sights some and lay off the high fastball. Todd Frazier seemed to just start taking quality hacks before food poisoning took him (and his lunch) from where they were supposed to be. Tyler Saladino has had some incredibly patient at bats but has yet to be completely rewarded for solid contact. Jacob May is yet to get a hit.
These are things you’re right to want to turn around and smart to keep an
Connor McKnight is the pre- and post-game host for Chicago White Sox baseball on WLS-AM 890. He also hosts White Sox Live, a weekend radio podcast .