Over the course of the White Sox six-game losing streak, runs have been tough to come by. No kidding, right? That’s what makes a losing streak. Still even when the White Sox have clicked, there’s been a glaring deficiency: A lefty bat.
Friday night against Jhoulys Chacin, the White Sox two-through-six hitters were all right handed. Chacin, also, is right handed. The White Sox entered the game hitting .218 off right handed pitching–last in the league. The White Sox two-through-six went 2-15 with one walk and three strikeouts against right handed pitching. The White Sox could really use a lefty bat.
That’s not so say they don’t have just such bats. After starting hot with two doubles in the season opener and steady work through April, it’s been a rough May for Melky Cabrera. Melky (who’s obviously a switch hitter) has much better numbers against right handers (.256/.308/.341) this year than left handers (.182/.250/.273) but neither slash line really jumps off the page. That such a veteran and versatile bat has been cold to start the year has been tough for the Sox to swallow. Good news is Melky is hardly striking out. Perhaps it’s just a run of the mill slump. After a putting up a .289/.429/.667 slash line in Spring Training, Cody Asche looked like he might give the White Sox some of the balance they needed. At least he’d be counted on to give a competitive at-bat in a platoon split with Matt Davidson in the corner/DH role but Asche’s struggles have been mighty and lengthy. Yolmer Sanchez gives a bit of pop off the bench and in situational roles but the switch-hitting, sawed-off utility man is buried behind Tyler Saladino and Tim Anderson in the middle of the infield and, Matt Davidson and Todd Frazier at third.
Omar Narvaez has been productive, but in a very unsurprising way. His .377 OBP is second on the team (Avisail Garcia is first at .382) but he simply doesn’t hit for power. Don’t get me wrong, a .260 average and a .380 on-base is just fine for a backstop but it seems the plan all along was to have Narvaez work in a time share with Geovany Soto (now Kevan Smith with Soto on the DL for the second time). That plan, too, makes sense as Narvaez has just 388 plate appearances above high A ball with 183 of those coming in The Show. How nuts is that? Kind of makes you look at ‘ol Omar (he’s 25) in a different light.
Which brings us to another switch hitter: Leury Garcia. The Middle Garcia. After plugging two home runs in Friday night’s loss to the Padres, the Median Garcia is hitting .304/.343/.489. It gives him the second highest average, the third highest on-base, and the third highest slugging percentage on the White Sox this year. Leury the Middlemost has never hit for power. Ever. His career slugging percentage in the minor leagues is .275 though, to be fair, he did hit the crap out of the ball in the 2011 Arizona Fall League (.361/.379/.590). Right now, past be damned, Leury might be the most intriguing player on the White Sox. He just turned 26. He can handle at least three and possibly up to six positions at major-league average caliber. He has raked. His strikeout rate, which was at 27 percent all through his minor league career and 33 percent in all of his major league time, is at 14 percent this year. Fourteen percent! That’s in the DJ LeMahieu-Francisco Lindor-Ian Kinsler-Anthony Rizzo range.
I have no idea if Leury can rise above the Mean and become Leury the… well… other meaning of mean. Odds are, no, he can’t keep up this kind of production. But, hell, every early-season column ends up with that same conclusion and that’s absolutely no fun. So, for now, enjoy what we’re watching and just maybe the White Sox have helped Leury elevate from the middle ground.