White Sox

What to make of Sox, Tigers run differentials

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What to make of Sox, Tigers run differentials

A mini-debate was started this week by FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal effectively dismissing Baltimore's run differential, which pegs the 51-44 Orioles to be well below .500. Allowing 439 runs while only scoring 395 doesn't have some people too confident in Baltimore's chances going forward, and with good cause.

But Rosenthal, in speaking to a few team officials from Baltimore, seemed to take the opinion that a few bad apples were spoiling the bunch -- i.e, the Orioles' run differential is so bad (the worst in the AL East) because of a few blowouts caused by poor starting pitching.

That's not an entirely wrong view, but Hardball Talk's Craig Calceterra points out that, for the Orioles to keep up their current pace both in terms of wins and run differential, it would be a historic outlier.

What does this have to do with the White Sox, though? As things stand on Monday, the White Sox have a better run differential than the Tigers, despite being 1 12 games out of first place. Detroit has scored 441 runs and allowed 420, while the Sox have scored 440 while allowing 401. That gives the Sox a 2 12-game advantage over Detroit in the expected win-loss category, which certainly seems like good news.

But, as expected when one team is on a five-game winning streak and the other a five-game losing streak, Detroit has moved closer to the White Sox in the last week. Since last Monday, Detroit has a 37-29 run differential, only marred by a 13-0 drubbing at the hands of the Angels on Tuesday. The White Sox in that same span have a 17-40 run differential.

So in the last week, Detroit is 8 runs, while the Sox are -23. These kind of things happen with the normal peaks and valleys of a full season.

The Sox are a better team than they've shown in the last week, and the smart money is on them eventually righting the ship. But the concern, though, is that Detroit is finally hitting their stride.

Since the start of July, Detroit is 13-4 with a run differential of 100-70. This run Detroit's on doesn't appear to be a mirage, like Baltimore's season can be viewed.

Just because Detroit appears to be who we thought they were doesn't mean the Sox should pack things up and won't ever be in first again this season. Far from it, and that doom-and-gloom attitude doesn't have much of a leg to stand on in late July.

But a sleeping giant has woken up, and the Sox have to buckle down and fight it.

Strikeout machine Alec Hansen wants to be the best ... OK, one of the best

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AP

Strikeout machine Alec Hansen wants to be the best ... OK, one of the best

GLENDALE, Ariz. — On a day when Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada took live batting practice for the first time this spring, off in the distance was a lanky White Sox prospect standing in the outfield grass.

But Alec Hansen was doing more than shagging flies. He was watching both hitters very closely.

“I was looking to see how much pop they had,” Hansen said of Abreu and Moncada. “I kind of look at that to see the difference in power between minor league ball and the major leagues. It’s nice to see it’s not a huge difference. That makes me feel a bit more comfortable.”

At 6-foot-8 — actually 6-foot-8-and-a-half, according to his spring training physical — Hansen is a big man with big plans for his baseball career. He might be quiet on the outside, but he has booming expectations for himself on the inside.

“I want to be the best,” Hansen said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago.

The best? The very best?

That’s what Hansen aspires to become, though later in our conversation, he did dial back a notch, settling for becoming “one of the best.”

Either is fine with manager Ricky Renteria, who is overseeing these uber-confident White Sox prospects and accepts their lofty expectations.

“I think their mindset is where it’s supposed to be,” Renteria said. “None of these kids are concerned or consumed with the possibility of failure. Much more they’re consuming themselves with the understanding that they might hit some stumbling blocks, but they’re going to have a way to avoid overcoming them and push forward and be the best that they can be.”

In his first full season in the White Sox organization, Hansen led the minor leagues with 191 strikeouts. He’s proud of that accomplishment but admitted something: He’s not that impressed because he didn’t do it where it really matters — in the major leagues.

When you watch Hansen pitch, it’s easy to see that the talent is there. His coaches and teammates rave about his ability. With his enormous size and power arm, he is loaded with strengths.  

Though there is one weakness that Hansen acknowledges he needs to work on.

“Sometimes I have a tendency to think too much and worry. I think worrying is the worst thing that I do just because I want to be perfect,” Hansen said. “I think everyone wants to be perfect, some more than others, and I worry about things getting in the way of achieving perfection.”

To Hansen, that doesn’t mean throwing a perfect game. He actually takes it one step further.

He wants to strikeout every single hitter he faces.

“I love striking people out,” Hansen said. “Not having to rely on anyone else and just getting the job done myself and knowing that the hitter can’t get a hit off me. That’s a great feeling. That they can’t put it in play. Like a line drive out. That’s terrible.”

At some point, Hansen will have to lower these impossible expectations for himself. This is an imperfect game. There’s no place for nine-inning, 27-strikeout performances. Players end up in the Hall of Fame because they learn how to succeed with failure.

In the meantime, Hansen is here in big league camp watching and learning anything and everything.

“I’m a good observer. I listen. I don’t really talk too much. I’m a pretty quiet guy. I like to sit back and observe and see how these guys go about their business. Just trying to be at their level, hopefully one day surpass them.”

Surpass?

“It’s kind of hard to surpass some of these guys. I mean, they’re at the tip-top, like the pinnacle of the sport,” Hansen said. “I guess you could say, to get on that level and then be one of the best in the league.”

He might be on his way.

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey

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USA TODAY

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey

The White Sox freed up a spot on their 40-man roster Sunday, outrighting pitcher Dylan Covey to Triple-A Charlotte.

Covey pitched in 18 games last season, making 12 starts for the South Siders. Things did not go well, with Covey turning in an 0-7 record and a 7.71 ERA in 70 innings.

While there was an outside chance that Covey could have provided at least some starting-pitching depth heading into the 2018 season, the team's recent additions of Miguel Gonzalez and Hector Santiago — not to mention Covey's results from last season — wiped out that idea.

At the moment, the White Sox starting rotation figures to look like this by Opening Day: James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer, with Santiago seeming like a good option to provide depth as the long man in the bullpen.