White Sox

Sox Drawer: Quentin gains perspective

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Sox Drawer: Quentin gains perspective

Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011
5:32 p.m.

By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

GLENDALE, Ariz -- A gentle breeze blew through Camelback Ranch on Tuesday. And heres some breaking news for you:

It was Carlos Quentin.

The ultra-focused outfielder who has spent the last two seasons playing baseball with an internal tornado whizzing through his head, arrived at spring training looking a whole lot lighter.

Some physically, but mostly mentally.

I just worked on some things to come back...and enjoy this game a little better, Quentin said. I would be foolish not to learn from things that Ive consistently repeated in my life and baseball career. Its been a consistent process for me and Im going to keep going with it.

No baseball player beats himself up more than Quentin, who seems to put himself through a 15-round heavyweight fight every time he takes the field. Spread that over the course of an entire baseball season, and Quentin ended the year with more stress and tension than the Golden Gate Bridge.

Something had to give.

Pressure has always been something that has been self-inflicted by myself. So its something Ive worked on to lighten up and enjoy this game this off-season, Quentin said. I talked with Ozzie (Guillen) a lot about last year and things I want to be accountable for. Things I need to be more accountable for. I feel like if I perform well, Ill be able to help this team.

Despite his mental struggles, plus injuries to his left hamstring and left knee, Quentin still finished with 26 home runs and 87 RBIs in 131 games last season. Surprising.

One of Quentins teammates who also reported for duty on Tuesday can relate to his internal battles, because they once nearly bulldozed his own career.

His name is Paul Konerko.

Ive done a wrong a million times. The potential is always there to do a wrong again, Konerko said. Its a day in and day out thing. Some guys have it naturally built in to do it the right way. I dont. And I dont think Carlos does. It took me a lot longer than it should have. Hopefully with him, its going to take less time than that.

If Tuesday was any indication, Quentin is headed in the right direction. The key, however, is to stay there.

I think hes on the right page now, but we all got to fight that fight once the season starts, Konerko said. Its not easy, but its in there. Everybody believes in him, otherwise he wouldnt be back here. They would have done something.

They is Kenny Williams who would like nothing more than to see Quentin recapture his MVP form of 2008.

This is a pretty special player, said the White Sox GM. And sometimes I think he loses sight of that and just tries to do too much and tries to carry too much weight. On this team I dont believe he needs to carry that much weight, and thats one of the things we tried to do is to allow him now to drop in the order a little bit. His responsibilities are lessened. All he has to do, forget about the home runs, is just get on base, because hes an on-base percentage machine.

Right now, Quentin is smiling and laughing, even hamming it up Tuesday with our CSN camera. Its the Carlos weve all been waiting to see. But this is spring training. Once the regular season begins, the White Sox will be watching Quentin closely to see how he reacts when things go south.

Because in baseball, they always do.

The real test comes in April when youve gone 2-3 games and you dont have a hit and youve lost all three games, Williams said. Thats the real test of when youre going to put those newly developed skills to the test. So well see. Hell find out and well find out together.

Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox sluggers Frank Thomas and Bill Melton. Follow Chuck @ChuckGarfien on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox news and views.

Four numbers that sum up a scorching hot month of September for the White Sox offense

Four numbers that sum up a scorching hot month of September for the White Sox offense

Even as the White Sox finish up the final stretch of their seventh consecutive losing season, the games they are playing aren’t meaningless -- Jose Abreu acknowledged as much when he said that the 2020 season “starts in September”. Key contributors in the White Sox lineup have clearly taken that to heart, as the Sox offense has been one of the best in baseball in the month of September. 

Here are four numbers* that reflect what has been a torrid stretch for the Sox offense to close the season:

*All stats as of the morning of September 21

Three

Three has been a magical number for the White Sox in September. For one, going into play Saturday, the Sox boast the top three leaders in hits for the month: Tim Anderson (32), Yoan Moncada (29) and Eloy Jimenez (28). The team as a whole is also third in baseball in total bases (319) and OPS (.832) in September -- only trailing the Astros and Yankees in both categories, which is certainly nothing to be ashamed of. 

Unrelated to the number three, but also worth noting, the team is leading the majors in batting average this month:

 

10

Ok, we cheated a little bit here -- 10 makes this list as a reference to Yoan Moncada’s jersey number, but in fairness, we needed a full section to highlight all Yo-Yo has done at the plate this month. He enters play Saturday as the major league leader in batting average (.444) and WAR (1.6) in September, and is currently working on a streak of five consecutive multi-hit games (he has 12 since the start of the month). 

To give even more of an idea of how scalding hot of a stretch it has been for Moncada, here is a side-by-side of his full-season slash-line on September 1 compared to September 21 (a stretch in which he has played 16 games):

  • September 1: .288/.342/.518 (.860 OPS)

  • September 21: .314/.368/.547 (.915 OPS)

Oh, and that .314 batting average? As of Saturday, that's only one point behind Michael Brantley for third in the AL. If Moncada can usurp Brantley, him and Anderson would make up two-thirds of the best three batting averages in the AL. *In best Larry David voice* Preeeeetty, pretty good.

27

“When I feel good, I don’t know, it’s just reaction. I don’t try to do too much and [I] just try to hit it on the barrel,” Eloy Jimenez said post-game last night, in reference to his grand slam against the Tigers. 

The Sox as a team are certainly employing that mentality this month, and the data reflects it. According to Baseball Savant, the White Sox lead baseball in balls batted with an exit velocity of greater-than-or-equal to 108 mph in September with 27 (the next closest team is the Yankees, with 20). Three such instances occurred in last night’s 10-1 rout in Detroit, including Moncada’s 24th home run of the season:

 

118

wRC+ is a weighted, park-controlled measure of a player’s ‘runs created’ wherein the league average is 100 and a player’s proximity to 100 determines how above or below average they register (if you’re curious, there is a great explainer of wRC+ on Fangraphs).

The White Sox have struggled in this metric for most of the season -- their wRC+ as a team is 92 (eight percent below league average), which ranks 20th in baseball. However, in September, the Sox collectively have a wRC+ of 118 -- a whopping 18 percent better than league average -- which ranks fourth in MLB for the month. It’s over a small sample size, as all of these stats are, but it remains an encouraging indicator that the offense is ending the year on a strong note. 

The offseason will officially be upon us soon enough, but if the Sox continue to rake, as they have been all month, there’s still time for a couple exciting moments and performances before the long wait for 2020.

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Daniel Palka finally has a good game in the middle of his nightmare season

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USA TODAY

Daniel Palka finally has a good game in the middle of his nightmare season

In the second inning Daniel Palka solidly lined a ball up the middle that looked like a sure hit off the bat. The problem? The Tigers defense was shifted perfectly to that spot for a lineout.

MLB Statcast gave Palka’s lineout an expected batting average of .650. It seemed like just another night like the rest of them have gone for Palka in the majors in 2019.

He entered Friday with a .034 batting average (2-for-59). After hitting 27 home runs with 45 extra base hits and a .778 OPS as a rookie in 2018, Palka hasn’t been able to do much of anything in a White Sox uniform.

That lineout appeared to be another “nothing can go right” moment. However, Palka’s Friday turned around.

His next time up, he pounded a ground ball that found a hole. Statcast gave that one a 31 percent chance of getting a hit, so he broke even after getting robbed earlier. The amusing thing is that Palka’s groundball single had an exit velocity of 108.9 mph, which was the second hardest hit ball of the game.

Palka later added a bloop single in the seventh and a line drive hit in the ninth to finish with a three hit day. Palka entered the day with two hits in 23 games and got three hits in Friday alone.

Even with the 3-for-5 night, Palka’s batting average is still only .072, but he more than doubled it in one game.

Is this relevant to the future of the White Sox? Almost certainly not, but Palka showed some promise in his rookie season and has been through an absolute nightmare this season. The mental side of going through his 0-for-32 start to the season and the continued struggles since could not have been easy. For at least one night in 2019 Palka had a good game at the plate.

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