White Sox

Sox Drawer: Running Strasburg diary

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Sox Drawer: Running Strasburg diary

Friday, June 18, 2010

By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

5:37 PM

By now, youveheard all about him. Stephen James Strasburg...the pitcher, phenom, andbaseball messiah who tonight will once again put the weight of severalplanets on his 21-year-old shoulders, taking the mound against theWhite Sox at 6:00 pm on Comcast SportsNet.

In his first majorleague start against Pittsburgh, he struck out 14 batters in 7 inningsand got the win. In his second start at Cleveland, he struck out 8 more(walked 5),but won again. Its pretty obvious that his stuff is offthe charts, said Nationals manager Jim Riggleman.

Yeah, but hes never thrown a pitch to Gavin Floyd. Gavin, may the force be with you.

Strasburgsfastball consistently hits 99 and 100. He also has a knee-bucklingcurveball and change-up. And much to the chagrin of my people, hes notJewish. A major disappointment.

At least we have Sandy Koufax. Yes, well always have Sandy.

Sowith Baby Jesus getting set to throw his biblical stuff at the Soxtonight, Ill be here throughout the game, reporting on anything andeverything that happens. The good, the bad, or when Gavin gets in thebox...the ugly.

6:17 PM

Well, you can forget about a Strasburg no-hitter. Juan Pierre leads off with an infield hit.

Hawk Harrelson sets a record by canceling the post-game show 30 seconds into the game.

Omar Vizquel is next with a bloop double to right. By the way, Vizquel is Strasburgs grandfather.

Other facts about the Chosen One that you may not know:

Hespeaks 46 languages. He is allergic to kryptonite. If he was in Chicagoduring that crazy storm this afternoon, he would have stopped it withone arm. His left one.

Alex Rios sends a dribbler to the rightside. Pierre scores. White Sox lead 1-0. Okay, thats it. Strasburg iscompletely overrated. Whats up with all of this hype?

(Strasburg proceeds to strikeout Konerko and Quentin to end the inning).

Okay, hes for real. Sick. Filthy. Nasty.

6:30 PM

Sitting onthe third base side in the suite is none other than the Sox FirstFan...President Obama. Just saw him sipping a beer during thecommercial break. Hes still wearing that ratty, old Sox cap. The teamhas tried to give him a new one, but he always refuses. He likes theone hes got.

Who is operating the camera above homeplate.NASA?When a ball is hit into the outfield I feel like Im watching from aspace station.

Frank Thomas is watching the game from his home in Vegas. Asked him what he thinks of Strasburg, he texted backcomposed.

A 1-2-3 inning for Strasburg in the second. Gavin Floyd leads off in the third! Odds of him making contact: 85-to-1.

6:51 PM

Despite the best intentions, Floyd strikes out. Pierre does too.

Strasburgreminds me of Dwight Gooden when he came into the big leagues in 1984.At just 19-years-old, he went 17-and-9 with 276 strikeouts in just 218innings. The next year, he was basically unhittable. Gooden was24-and-4 with a 1.53 ERA.

This is the Sox first game inWashington, DC since July 16, 1971. The Sox won the game 2-0...thanksin large part to my TV partner Bill Melton, who hit accounted for bothruns with a 2-run homer in the sixth innings, his 21st of the season.

Bill also committed an error at third base. Well talk more about this on the post-game show. Mainly his error.

Vizquel grounds out to second. Still 1-0 White Sox. Floyd has his A stuff tonight.

6:56 PM

So Imreading the media game notes provided by the Washington Nationals.They also wrote about the Sox last game in DC, but mistakenly calledBill Melton Pete.

Pete Melton?

After giving up hitsto Pierre and Vizquel to start the game, Strasburg has retired 12 in arow, 7 on strikeouts. While in the dugout, Im told he is in deepdiscussions with President Obama on how to fix the oil leak in theGulf. Expect Stephen to have it all figured out by the 8th inning.

7:25 PM

The Phillies are thumping the Twins 8-0 in the 4th inning. Just sayin.

Withall the attention on Strasburg, Floyd is matching him. Just one hitthrough 5. Hes retired 8 in a row. But thats what humans can do.

Strasburg?His 9 strikeouts give him 31, which is the most in baseball history fora pitcher in his first 3 games. He breaks the record of 29 set byformer Astros pitcher J.R. Richard.

BREAKING NEWS: Gavin Floyddoesnt just make contact off Strasburg, he just got a hit!!! Thisjust might be the greatest achievement I have seen on a baseball fieldsince Mark Buehrle homered last year at Miller Park. Floyd was 2-for-48at the plate in his career.

Meanwhile, this game is flying and Ihave a postgame show to do. Maybe this running blog wasnt such a greatidea. Melton feels neglected. Im too busy to talk to him.

Strasburghas given up two home runs in his first two starts. Im predictingsomeone gets to him next inning. Konerko or Quentin.

Still 1-0 White Sox in the 6th.

7:56 PM

Thats itfor Strasburg. Despite a 100-pitch limit, they pull him after throwing85. He gives up 1 run over 7, finishes with 10 strikeouts and zerowalks. He really is amazing.

And I gotta get ready for the postgame show. If you have an email for Bill Melton, submit it by clicking here. Well get to as many as we can. Thanks for reading everyone!

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

Eloy Jimenez reaches 30-home run mark in rookie season

Eloy Jimenez reaches 30-home run mark in rookie season

It took a couple months for Eloy Jimenez to get going in his rookie season, but the prized White Sox outfielder is meeting most reasonable expectations for his first year in the majors.

Jimenez smacked his 30th home run of the season Sunday in Detroit, which represents a notable round number milestone. Jimenez now has eight home runs in September and it’s only the 22nd of the month.

Jimenez launched a 2-0 slider to left center in his first at-bat to give the White Sox an early lead in Detroit.

A 30-home run season is a long way from the player Jimenez looked like in April and May. Entering June 1, the 22-year-old was hitting .220/.273/.390. He was struggling to lay off sliders out of the zone and looked a bit lost at the plate.

In June, Jimenez looked like the talented hitter the White Sox believed he was capable of becoming. He hit .284/.340/.602 with eight home runs, including a memorable go-ahead home run in Wrigley against the Cubs.

An injury playing the field in mid-July in Kansas City cost him a couple weeks and seemed to disrupt whatever rhythm he was building in June. This month, Jimenez is once again showing his elite potential. He won AL Player of the Week last week.

Jimenez’s overall numbers now have the look of a solid, promising, albeit still flawed rookie season. Jimenez entered Sunday hitting .267/.316/.506. The power is there, but the batting average and walk rate are both lower than most expectations for him long-term. However, to put up an above average overall season at the plate as a rookie while dealing with two stints on the injured list is definitely a strong base to build from.

Expectations will be higher for Jimenez in 2020. Many will expect him to take a step towards becoming a middle of the order hitter for years to come. For now, it’s safe to look at Jimenez’s 30th home run as proof of a solid rookie campaign.

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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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