White Sox

Sox fall to Twins in Youkilis' debut

801796.png

Sox fall to Twins in Youkilis' debut

MINNEAPOLIS -- Even the addition of Kevin Youkilis couldnt help the White Sox solve their troubles against left-handed pitchers on Monday night.Yet another opposing southpaw kept the White Sox quiet as Minnesotas Francisco Liriano outpitched Jake Peavy in a 4-1 contest in front of 35,659 at Target Field. Youkilis, who was acquired from the Boston Red Sox on Sunday in part because of his success against southpaws, went 1-for-4 in his debut as the White Sox record against left-handed starters fell to 8-13.The White Sox maintained their half-game lead in the American League Central over Cleveland, a 7-1 loser to the New York Yankees.Pitching one day after his former coach Darrel Akerfelds passed away after a 19-month battle with pancreatic cancer, Peavy (6-4) honored his friend with an AK inscription on his hat.The right-hander wasnt fooling Twins hitters early. The first two Minnesota hitters of the game reached base and Joe Mauer hit sacrifice fly before Peavy induced an inning-ending double play from Josh Willingham. The Twins took a 3-0 lead in the second inning as they combined three singles with an Alex Rios throwing error. Minnesota nearly went ahead 5-0, but Denard Spans second double of the game fell a foot shy of becoming a two-run homer.Peavy did eventually settle down even though he allowed five more men to reach in his final four innings.Peavy yielded three earned runs, 10 hits, walked one and struck out seven in six innings.Workmanlike as they were, Peavys numbers couldnt match those of Liriano (2-7).He came out firing and retired nine of the first 10 White Sox hitters he faced.Liriano continued a trend by White Six hitters when he only allowed six men on in seven strong innings and didnt allow a run until the seventh. The White Sox are hitting .239 against left-handed pitching this year and .259 against righties.The White Sox did cut into a 3-0 deficit in the seventh. Rios became the first leadoff hitter to reach when he doubled in the seventh. He advanced to third on a wild pitch and later scored on Alexei Ramirezs sacrifice fly.Youkilis -- who hits 17 points higher against left-handers in his career (.299 vs. .282) singled in his fourth at-bat with one out in the eighth inning against Minnesotas Glen Perkins.White Sox pitchers combined to allow 20 men to reach base in eight innings. The Twins stranded 13 runners, including with the bases loaded in the eighth and ninth innings.

White Sox sign Enoy Jimenez, the 17-year-old brother of Eloy Jimenez

0722_eloy_jimenez.jpg
USA TODAY

White Sox sign Enoy Jimenez, the 17-year-old brother of Eloy Jimenez

One Jimenez just isn't enough for the White Sox.

The White Sox signed the younger brother of top prospect Eloy Jimenez this weekend. Enoy Jimenez is a 17-year-old infielder, and the 21-year-old outfielder ranked as the No. 3 prospect in baseball was on hand for his brother's big moment.

Eloy figures to hit the big leagues early next season, though it will likely be a while longer before his teenage brother could do the same. Still, they're likely hoping for the chance to play together one day.

According to this pretty exhaustive list from MLB.com, four sets of brothers have played together on the White Sox: Homer and Ted Blankenship in the 1920s, Dick and Hank Allen in the 1970s, Roberto and Sandy Alomar in 2003 and 2004 and John and Jordan Danks in 2012.

Should we be getting ready for the fifth pair?

Matt Davidson's incredibly interesting 2018

1019_matt_davidson.jpg
USA TODAY

Matt Davidson's incredibly interesting 2018

This season, Matt Davidson became the fourth player in MLB history to hit three home runs in a season opener. It definitely raised a few eyebrows, especially after Paul Konerko noted during spring training that a 40-home run season and an All-Star selection isn’t out of the question for the California native. After clobbering nine home runs (seven of them coming at Kauffman Stadium) in his first 21 games, anything seemed possible.

Unfortunately it didn’t quite turn out that way, though he did rack up his second straight 20-homer season. But it’s hard to argue that 2018 wasn’t a success for Davidson — mostly because of the swings he didn’t make.

Everything else aside, Davidson walked as often as Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo in 2018.

OK, the more meaningful comparison would be Davidson to himself.

What stands out is his walk rate. One hundred fifty three players had at least 400 plate appearances in both 2017 and 2018. Among them, Davidson had the second-highest increase in walk percentage this past season.

Consider this: In 2017, Davidson and Tim Anderson became (and still are) the only players in MLB history with 160-plus strikeouts and fewer than 20 walks in a season.

Davidson, while logging 20 more at-bats in 2018, had the same number of strikeouts, 165, but he increased his walk total from 19 to 52. Give him credit for that. It’s a tough adjustment to make at the minor league level let alone in the major leagues. The increased walk rate brought his on-base percentage from .260 in 2017 (well below the AL average of .324) to .319 in 2018 (a tick above the AL average of .318) and pushed his overall offensive production from 16 percent below league average (as measured by his 84 weighted runs created plus, or wRC+) to four percent above league average (104 wRC+).

And I haven’t even mentioned the most fun aspect of his 2018 season: He pitched! And he pitched well.

Thirty pitchers took the mound for the White Sox in 2018, all of whom made at least three appearances. And only one of them didn’t allow a run: Davidson.

He topped out at 91.9 MPH and had as many strikeouts, two, as baserunners allowed in his three innings of work. The two batters he struck out, Rougned Odor and Giancarlo Stanton, combined for 56 home runs in 2018. They combined for 89 home runs (and an MVP award) in 2017.

In his career, Stanton had a combined 16 plate appearances and zero strikeouts against Barry Zito, CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka and Edwin Díaz. He struck out in his one plate appearance against Davidson.

Davidson is one of just three players with 20 or more home runs and at least three mound appearances in a season in MLB history:

— Babe Ruth (1919): 29 home runs, 17 games on the mound
— Davidson (2018): 20 home runs, three games on the mound
— Shohei Ohtani (2018): 22 home runs, 10 games on the mound

Facts are facts. Davidson is actually serious about expanding his role on the mound.

“To be honest, I would love to maybe explore that idea,” he said in July. “Pitching was a dream. As a young kid, everybody wants to hit that walk-off homer, right? I was the guy striking that guy out. That’s how I first loved the game. My favorite player was Randy Johnson and doing that.

“So, it’s something I would be interested in. I don’t know if the game would necessarily allow that or something like that. It’s something that is really close to my heart is pitching.”

Whether or not it ever happens, Davidson’s 2018 was all about finding ways to increase his value. For the White Sox, that’s a good problem to have.