Bears

10 interesting stats about the White Sox first half

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10 interesting stats about the White Sox first half

One more day of idleness before the season resumes tomorrow night in Kansas City, so given the fact that some of these points might no longer be valid when play resumes, why not roll out a list of 10 things about the first half you may not know? Enjoy.

1. Alejandro De Aza: Doubles...but not doubled up

Our leadoff man has had a solid season. He has 16 doubles at the break; excellent when considering that Juan Pierre's totals in 2010 and 2011 were 18 and 17, respectively. Furthermore, De Aza has had the most plate appearances in the American League without hitting into a double play.

PA
De Aza 367
Johnny Damon 179
Jonny Gomes 176
Quintin Berry 168
Alex Liddi 114
Aaron Cunningham 100

If the season were to end now, he'd have the second most PA in a season without a GIDP by a White Sox player (GIDP data available 1939-current).

PA Year
Kenny Lofton 406 2002
De Aza 367 2012
Thurman Tucker 293 1947
Dan Pasqua 277 1989
Ron Karkovice 248 1994
Karkovice again 203 1989

2.) Gavin Floyd: Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

Floyd leads the White Sox in starts with 5 runs allowed (seven).

However...Floyd also leads the White Sox in starts with 6 IP and 0 runs (five). In fact, Floyd has as many 6 inning scoreless starts as Sale (3) and Peavy (2) COMBINED.

3.) Sweet Seventeen

Kevin Youkilis (55 PA) and Orlando Hudson (109 PA) both have exactly 17 hits.

In White Sox franchise history, Youkilis (and Hudson) has (have) already surpassed the likes of George Foster (11) and Ruben Sierra (16) on the White Sox career hit list. Hit No. 18 will tie them with Manny Ramirez and Chris Sabo. I love making lists of memorable names who played briefly for teams, thinking that somehow they all once represented the same franchise.

4.) Tripling your pleasure

The White Sox have 18 triples at the break. They had 16 all last season. And that 16 was really odd, given that they had both a 48-game triple-less streak AND a 5-triple game last season.

Also, there are four Sox players with 3 triples. They haven't had four players with 3 triples in an entire season since 2002 (Kenny Lofton 6, Jose Valentin 4, Tony Graffanino 4, D'Angelo Jimenez 3). One of the four Sox players with 3 triples is A.J. Pierzynski, the first White Sox catcher to reach this mark since Pudge Fisk had 4 in 1983.

5.) Ranting Robin

The difference in demeanor between Ozzie Guillen and Robin Ventura has been highlighted constantly. But know this: Robin has been getting ejected at a faster pace than Ozzie.

1st Career Ejection 2nd Career Ejection
Date Game No. Date Game No.
Ozzie Guillen 61204 58th 8904 109th
Robin Ventura 53012 51st 7812 85th

And Guillen was only ejected twice in his first season as manager in 2004, so the next time Robin gets tossed, he will have surpassed Guillen in rookie ejections.

6.) First impressions
Both Nate Jones (Josh Hamilton - April 8 in Texas) and Leyson Septimo (Alex Rodriguez - June 29 in New York) recorded their first ML strikeouts against former MVPs. Septimo struck out Robinson Cano with his second career whiff (future MVP?)

7.) Lefty Numerology

The White Sox have had 33 starts by lefties in the first half of 2012. The 2005 White Sox had 33 starts by lefties all season, all by Mark Buehrle.

None of the 2012 lefty starts were by Mark Buehrle, who wore 56.

They came from:

49 Chris Sale (15)
50 John Danks (9)
52 Eric Stults (1)
62 Jose Quintana (8)

Chris Sale is the only White Sox lefty starting pitcher to wear a jersey number under 50 (excluding Jackie Robinson 42 days) since 48 Josh Stewart toed the rubber August 26, 2004. In between that start and Chris Sale's first start 492012, the Sox had 406 straight starts by lefties who wore jersey number 50 or higher (again excluding Jackie Robinson 42 days; in any event, I believe Sale is the only Sox lefty starter to wear 42 on Jackie Robinson Day).

Also, Jose Quintana is the Sox pitcher with the highest jersey number to start a game since Dan Wright, also 62, started 12 games in 2001.

8.) Pinch running out of town

With the arrival of Kevin Youkilis came the departure of Brent Lillibridge, who had a memorable 2011 and had made several highlight reel catches in the field while with the Sox. He also pinch-ran 66 times in his White Sox career.

That's sixth all-time in White Sox history during the "Baseball-Reference Play Index Era"

Pinch Running appearances by White Sox players (1918-current)

Al Weis 123
Sammy Esposito 107
Jim Rivera 82
Tommy McCraw 72
Mike Squires 69
Brent Lillibridge 66

Here's the breakdown of who Lillibridge ran for (including 6 players with 300 HR):

Paul Konerko - 18 Alejandro De Aza - 1
Carlos Quentin - 17 Ramon Castro - 1
Adam Dunn - 8 Gordon Beckham - 1
Mark Kotsay - 5 Omar Vizquel - 1
Dayan Viciedo - 3 Chris Getz - 1
Manny Ramirez - 3 Wilson Betemit - 1
A.J. Pierzynski - 2 Jermaine Dye - 1
Andruw Jones - 2 Jim Thome - 1
9.) Zach Attack(ed)

The Cubs hit 72 first half home runs. Six of them (or 8.33 percent) have come off Zach Stewart. No other pitcher has allowed more than four (Johan Santana is only other with four) to the Northsiders this season.

10.) Big-time power

Adam Dunn had a pair of notable home runs off A.L. West starters this season: Bartolo Colon Apr. 23rd and Felix Hernandez June 1st.

Dunn has now homered off no fewer than 16 former Cy Young Award winners:

Chris Carpenter, Colon, Eric Gagne, Tom Glavine, Roy Halladay, Hernandez, Clayton Kershaw, Cliff Lee, Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez, Jake Peavy, Johan Santana, John Smoltz, Justin Verlander, Brandon Webb and Barry Zito

By comparison, Paul Konerko has homered off twelve.

Roger Clemens, Colon, David Cone, Zack Greinke, Hernandez, Randy Johnson, Lee, CC Sabathia, Bret Saberhagen, Santana, Verlander, and Zito.

Can't beat baseball trivia. Enjoy the second half.

2017 Bears position grades: Defensive Line

2017 Bears position grades: Defensive Line

2017 grade: B+

Level of need: Medium

Decisions to be made on: Mitch Unrein (free agent), John Jenkins (free agent)

Possible free agent targets: Jared Crick, Frostee Rucker, Dominique Easley

This unit was consistently the Bears’ best in 2017, with Akiem Hicks playing at a Pro Bowl level (don’t let his exclusion from the game fool you on that) and Eddie Goldman putting together a rock-solid, healthy year. 

Hicks signed a four-year contract extension just before the season began and rewarded the Bears with a dominant year, racking up 8 ½ sacks and 15 tackles for a loss. Goldman played in and started 15 games and was a key reason why the Bears limited opposing rushers to four yards per carry, tied for the 10th-best average in the league. 

But while the Bears’ defensive line was certainly good, it wasn’t as good as it could’ve been. These words from Vic Fangio ring true for Hicks and Goldman:

“I think they all have a lot more to give to us than we’ve seen,” Fangio said. “And it’s our job to get them to improve and become even better players. That will be more important to us than anybody we can acquire between now and whenever our first game is. So, and I know it’s always sexy to talk between now and the first game, you know, who are you going to draft, who’s in free agency, etc., but we’ve got to get our so-called good players playing even better. And that will be critical.”

Hicks will enter Year 3 in Fangio’s scheme, while 2018 will be Goldman’s fourth. It’ll also be a critical year for Jonathan Bullard and Roy Robertson-Harris, who’ve flashed potential at times but haven’t been able to turn that into consistent success on the field. 

And that’s where we begin to look ahead to free agency and the draft. Is the Bears’ evaluation of Bullard -- their 2016 third-round pick -- positive enough to hand him a bigger role in 2018? That’s question No. 1 to answer, with No. 2 then being if the team should try to re-sign Mitch Unrein. 

It may be a bit risky to move forward with Bullard, given how popular Unrein was among the Bears’ defensive coaching staff. 

“He’s one of the glue guys on the defense and the team,” Fangio said last November. “Every team needs a few of those guys who are going to do everything right, full speed, hard and tough all the time, and that’s Mitch.”

Defensive line coach Jay Rodgers offered this up about Unrein back in October: “He allows those guys to play fast,” with “those guys” being Hicks and Goldman. 

Statistically, the 30-year-old Unrein doesn’t  jump off the page, but he did record a career high 2 ½ sacks in 2017. Perhaps there would be some benefits to continuity in the Bears’ base 3-4 defensive line.

Worth noting too is this position isn’t a huge need, given Unrein usually played between 40 and 55 percent of the Bears’ defensive snaps on a per-game basis last year. Keeping Unrein for a relatively low cap hit would make some sense, as opposed to testing free agency to replace him.

Jared Crick is coming off back surgery and an ineffective 2016; Dominique Easley is coming off his third torn ACL this decade; Frostee Rucker is in his mid-30’s. The Bears could look to pick a 3-4 defensive end in April, but that would be a pretty quick re-draft of the position and would be an indication they don’t think much of Bullard. This seems like a position where keeping the status quo is likely, save maybe for replacing John Jenkins with a different backup behind Goldman. 
 

Anthony Davis could be the lone torch-bearer for Chicago at All-Star weekend in 2020, and object of recruitment

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AP

Anthony Davis could be the lone torch-bearer for Chicago at All-Star weekend in 2020, and object of recruitment

There were no Lakers or Clippers in the 2018 All-Star Game, but Los Angeles was well-represented with plenty of homegrown talent, plenty of historians with Los Angeles ties and all the pageantry L.A. can provide.

Russell Westbrook, Paul George and James Harden are among the All-Stars who came home to put on the biggest show of entertainment the league has to offer, and the new format featuring captains LeBron James and Stephen Curry produced one of the most competitive finishes in recent All-Star history as the spectacle wasn’t lost on DeRozan, who plays for the conference-leading Toronto Raptors.

“It was a dream come true,” DeRozan said. “I’ll forever be a part of this, and to come out and be a starter in my hometown, it was a dream come true.”

With Chicago hosting the event in 2020, one wonders if the city or the Bulls will be as represented.

“What better time to do it than in Chicago?” Bulls rookie Lauri Markkanen said about his aspirations of being an All-Star sooner rather than later.

New Orleans’ Anthony Davis, to this point, is the only Chicagoan carrying the torch as an All-Star. For years, Chicago could claim their homegrown talent rivaled the likes of Los Angeles and New York, the self-proclaimed “Mecca”.

But now they’ve fallen behind in the way of star power, as Derrick Rose has gone from MVP to one of the biggest “what if” stories in modern-day sports. Jabari Parker was expected to be next in line but his future as a star is murky due to the same dreaded injury bug.

“I didn’t know that. But there’s a lot of great players (from Chicago),” Davis said Saturday during media availability. “Jabari is just coming back, Derrick is going through what he’s going through. That’s fine. D-Wade is getting older. We have a lot of great guys. Guys have been hurt, in D-Wade’s case he’s just getting up there in age now (laughs).”

Davis is arguably the league’s most versatile big man, keeping the New Orleans Pelicans afloat while DeMarcus Cousins is out with an Achilles injury. He’s had to watch the likes of George deal with free agent questions about the prospect of coming home to L.A., even after he was traded from Indiana to Oklahoma City in the offseason.

It still hasn’t stopped the chants from Lakers fans, panting after George in the hope he’ll be a savior of sorts. And even though his contract isn’t up for another few seasons, teams are lining up in the hope they can acquire him through free agency or trade.

It could very well be him getting the chants when the All-Star party comes to Chicago and he could be joined by the likes of Markkanen and Zach LaVine in the big game.

LaVine was in Los Angeles for the weekend and Markkanen opened eyes around the league with his showing in the rising stars game as well as the skills challenge.

Davis could wind up being the object of everyone’s affection and could find himself being recruited by the likes of LaVine.

Even though 2021 is a long way away, a guy can dream, right?

“I mean, I’m cool with a lot of dudes in the NBA. I feel like I’m a likeable guy,” LaVine told NBCSportsChicago.com about recruiting star players to the Bulls franchise. “I can talk about situations like that, it would be my first time being put in a position. It would be a little bit different but I think I can handle it.”

LaVine has his own contract situation to take care of this summer, being a restricted free agent but understands the Bulls’ salary cap position and their long-term goals.

“Yeah I think once the offseason comes and everybody settles down, and I’m comfortable, and I know the position I’ll be in,” LaVine said to NBCSportsChicago.com.

“I think we’ll start having those conversations because we want to get the franchise back to where it was, on that high plateau. That’s what it’s supposed to be.”

“I’m trying to solidify myself in the league to a certain degree. Once you start reaching those points you can talk to anybody to get to where you want to get to.”

LaVine attended several events over the weekend and shared the same space as several All-Stars in non-media settings. It’s easy to see why he would think he could have that affect with his peers.

Being careful about the rules on tampering, he said about a potential sit-down with Davis, “I would bring some Harold’s chicken to the meeting and we’ll be all good.”