In 2008, one in every three fly balls hit by a relatively unknown utility man by the name of Ben Zobrist went for a home run in September. In 2009, Zobrist hit 27 home runs in a breakout year that deserved serious MVP consideration.
But in September of 2009, a different unknown utility player had a higher home run per fly ball rate in September. In 2010, that player hit 54 home runs. Jose Bautista, seemingly overnight, became the best power hitter in baseball.
In September of 2010, Michael Morse found himself on that same home runfly ball leaderboard that springboarded Zobrist and Bautista. He hit 31 home runs in 2011.
And now the fun part: Brent Morel found himself on that September home runfly ball leaderboard last year. While the methodology is hardly scientific, it's enough to lead Lewis Pollis of Beyond the Box Score to tab Morel as a breakout player for 2012. Here's how he sums it up:
"There's a big sample size caveat here and I'm not suggesting that Morel's gaudy September numbers are completely indicative of a new true talent level. But a late-season swing (pun intended) as dramatic as his shouldn't necessarily be dismissed as a fluky hot streak, especially since some of his other numbers changed towards the end of the year too. It's important to remember the huge role of luck in baseball and the dangers of reading too much into small sample sizes, but surely that Zobrist, Bautista, and Morse all broke out after huge Septembers has to mean something. And besides, I hear the jury's still out on science."
Morel won't be the next Jose Bautista in terms of production (although, man, that'd be nice, right?), but if his September wasn't a fluke, maybe the Sox offense will get a much-needed jolt from a fairly unexpected source.
It might be a long shot for the White Sox to sign free agent Manny Machado, but here on the White Sox Talk Podcast, we like dark horses. Chuck Garfien, Ryan McGuffey and Vinnie Duber discuss what it would take to bring Machado to the South Side. Plus, is he "the" guy the White Sox are targeting this offseason? Will the Rockies listen to trade offers for Nolan Arenado a year before he reaches free agency? Plus, Chuck talks about a cost-controlled, All-Star on a rebuilding team that could be an answer at third base.
Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:
Mark Buehrle. Jon Garland. Freddy García. José Contreras.
The 2005 White Sox had four consecutive complete games to finish off the 2005 ALCS — Contreras took his turn in Game 5 against the Angels 13 years ago Tuesday. How special was that run of starting pitching to finish that series? Consider the following six statements:
— No team has had more than two complete games in a single postseason, let alone a postseason series, since.
— There has been a grand total of four complete games in 188 postseason games (through Monday) since the beginning of 2016.
— Those 2005 White Sox remain the only team with four complete games in a single LCS (which went to a best-of-seven format in 1985).
— They are the only team since the 1968 Tigers (in the World Series) with at least four complete games in any postseason series.
— They are the only team since the 1956 Yankees (in the World Series) with at least four consecutive complete games in a series. (The Yankees had five in a row: Games 3 through 7.)
— They are the only team since the 1928 Yankees (in the World Series) with at least four consecutive complete-game wins in a series (Games 1 through 4).
Take a moment to look back and appreciate what Don Cooper’s troops were able to accomplish in that series. The way the game is played nowadays, we will never see it again.