White Sox

Could the Sox have beaten Branch Rickey to the punch?

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Could the Sox have beaten Branch Rickey to the punch?

What if Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in a White Sox uniform? How would that have altered baseball history? How about the impact it would have had on our magnificent city? Five years before his Dodger debut, and 70 years ago today, Jackie and pitcher Nate Moreland appeared at White Sox training camp at Brookside Park in Pasadena, Calif.

None of the major Chicago newspapers mentioned anything of the event. The American Communist Party's Daily Worker (which frequently attacked baseball's color line in print) was the only newspaper to cover it. A 1997 Chicago Tribune article "Chicago's 55-year-old Secret" credits the Daily Worker with setting up the attempted tryout, and according to Neil Lanctot in "Negro League Baseball: The Rise and Ruin of a Black Institution," Herman Hill, Los Angeles correspondent of the Pittsburgh Courier, accompanied the men to Pasadena.

The Tribune's 1997 writeup suggests Robinson & Moreland actually worked out for Sox skipper Jimmy Dykes, whereas Lanctot says they requested a workout which Dykes declined with the usual "it's up to the owners and Judge Landis" runaround, which is the more likely story. Arnold Rampersad's 1997 biography of Robinson acknowledges the attempted tryout, quoting Dykes as saying "I would welcome Negro players on the Sox, and I believe every one of the other fifteen big league managers would do likewise. As for the players, they'd all get along too."

But why then would Robinson fail to mention this in any of his autobiographical work? The Tribune article submits Robinson may not have wanted any connection with the Communist Party (whose newspaper, remember, was said to have a hand in the appearance). That's possible; unfortunately as all parties have since passed away, we can do little but ask "What if...?"

James McCann leads charge for White Sox in running for starting spots in MLB All-Star Game

James McCann leads charge for White Sox in running for starting spots in MLB All-Star Game

Major League Baseball released a second voting update for All-Star Game starters and three White Sox players are still in the mix.

The top three spots at each position (and top nine in the outfield) are all that matter for now, with those players advancing to MLB’s new Starters Election. James McCann is the only member of the White Sox to sit in one of those spots for now.

McCann is second at catcher behind Gary Sanchez of the Yankees. He is nearly 800,000 votes behind the Yankees backstop.

Jose Abreu was in third in the last update at first base, but has fallen behind Carlos Santana of the Indians. Luke Volt, another Yankee, leads with C.J. Cron of the Twins in second. Santana is just under 43,000 votes ahead of Abreu.

Tim Anderson is still in fourth at shortstop. Jorge Polanco of the Twins and Carlos Correa of the Astros are comfortably in the top two spots. Gleyber Torres, yet another Yankee, is just over 45,000 votes ahead of Anderson for third.

There aren’t any other White Sox within striking distance of the top three. Yoan Moncada remains in eighth among third basemen.

Polls close Friday at 3 p.m. CT.

 

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Breaking down Eloy Jimenez's improvement

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USA TODAY

Breaking down Eloy Jimenez's improvement

When Eloy Jiménez returned from the Injured List in late May and rejoined the White Sox lineup, he went on the road to Houston and Minnesota and he struggled to the tune of a .148 batting average and .148 on-base percentage, with four hits (three went over the fence), 11 strikeouts and no walks.

For the season, his slashline was .217/.259/.406 with five walks and 36 strikeouts. He was swinging at 49.8 percent of all the pitches he saw (a bit above the 46.7 percent league average); he was swinging at 38.8 percent of pitches outside the zone (quite a bit above the 30.9 percent league average).

He returned to the comfort of Guaranteed Rate Field on May 27 and took a pair of walks. From that point forward, things started to look a lot better… and the results were in line with that observation.

Eloy Jiménez this season:

  PA AVG OBP SLG BB K Swing % Outside zone swing %
Through May 26 112 ,217 .259 .406 5 36 49.8 38.8
Since May 27 71 .297 .366 .594 7 18 45.9 30.8

Not only has he improved quite a bit, but that 30.8 outside the zone swing percentage is second only to Yonder Alonso’s 29.9 percent mark among White Sox with at least 40 plate appearances since May 27. Jiménez hasn’t been chasing nearly as many bad pitches lately.

Those pitches he has been laying off of have for the most part been the low and away stuff, as indicated by his swing charts below. First, his swing rates before getting hurt and then since he came back from injury.

These charts are from the catcher’s perspective, and from what you can see, he has done a much better job of laying off the low and away pitches. Look at the three zones furthest low and away. There’s a big difference.

Start of the year through May 26:

Since May 27:

Through May 26 he swung at 33.8 percent of pitches (51 of 151)  low and away and out of the zone. Since May 27 he has swung at 14.5 percent of those pitches (10 of 69).

It’s only an 18-game sample, so there will certainly be more adjustments made to combat Jiménez, but I believe we’re watching Eloy begin to mature into the middle of the order force as he was advertised.

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