White Sox

An encouraging sign for the White Sox offense

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USA TODAY

An encouraging sign for the White Sox offense

The White Sox are playing good baseball lately, with a 15-13 record over their last 28 games. What stands out most is their recent run of better starting pitching – they have had five quality starts over their last seven games (opposed to nine over the first 32 games this season). But tucked away on the stats page is something that’s really promising. The Sox are hitting the ball hard this season; they currently rank second in MLB in hard-hit percentage, according to Statcast data. By definition, a hard hit ball is a batted ball with exit velocity of at least 95 MPH.

Hard Hit percentage
MLB leaders this season (according to Statcast)

Rays 42 percent
White Sox 41.3 percent
Tigers 41.1 percent
Twins 41.1 percent
Yankees 40.7 percent
Red Sox 39.9 percent

Among individual players on the White Sox, José Abreu leads the way with 57 percent, which is fifth out of 364 players in MLB with at least 25 batted ball events this season. Aaron Judge is No. 1 with 66.7 percent, though he has missed most of the season with an oblique strain and has only 48 batted ball events to Abreu’s 114. If you set the cutoff at minimum 100 batted ball events, Abreu’s 57 percent ranks first out of 115 players.

Hard Hit percentage
MLB individual leaders this season (min. 100 batted ball events), according to Statcast

José Abreu 57 percent
Josh Bell 55.7 percent
Christian Yelich 54.4 percent
George Springer 53.3 percent
Javier Báez 53.1 percent
Trevor Story  52.9 percent
Cody Bellinger 52.8 percent

Not far behind Abreu are Yonder Alonso (50 percent), James McCann (46.3 percent) and Yoán Moncada (45.5 percent). To anyone who has watched the 2019 White Sox regularly, seeing those names on a hard-hit rate leaderboard shouldn’t be much of a surprise, perhaps with the exception of Alonso, who has yet to find his rhythm this season. But hitting the ball hard usually brings success, so it may be a matter of time before Alonso puts it all together. He has certainly showed a good eye at the plate early on.

With continued success from the starting moundsmen, if the White Sox can continue their trend of hard hitting, we might see a nice improvement on their win total from last season.

SprtsTalk Live Podcast: Is MLB about to strike out forever?

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USA TODAY

SprtsTalk Live Podcast: Is MLB about to strike out forever?

David Haugh, Chuck Garfien and JJ Stankevitz join Kap on a Friday edition of STL. 

The MLB owners and players appear to be farther apart then ever with the union saying they will not take a further pay cut. Is the sport about to strike out forever?

Meanwhile, the Bulls season is over. Will a nine-month lay-off help or hurt them? Plus, the Bears may not get together as a team until training camp. Will that hurt them at all?

Finally, Jean Lenti Ponsetto will retire as DePaul athletic director this summer. Can a new AD get the men’s basketball team back to national prominence?

0:00 - There’s still no baseball and the two sides don’t even appear to be in the same ballpark. Are the owners and players heading for a mutually assured destruction? Does one side need to give in first for the good of the game?

11:00 - The NBA is returning but the Bulls won’t take part. Is it better for them to have a 9-month lay-off?

15:00 - The Bears and other NFL teams may not get to work out together until training camp. Does the hurt the Bears?

19:00 - Jean Lenti Ponsetto will retire as DePaul AD this summer. Can a new AD bring the Blue Demons men’s basketball team back to national prominence?

 

Listen here or below.

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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Report: 2020 MLB season will happen, how many baseball games is unclear

Report: 2020 MLB season will happen, how many baseball games is unclear

Fans looking for good news during the financial fight between baseball’s owners and players are getting it from SNY’s Andy Martino. He says there will be a baseball season in 2020.

No, there’s no imminent agreement between the two warring sides. But the worst-case scenario, no season at all, seems as if it will be avoided, per Martino, who reported Friday that players will play even if Major League Baseball sidesteps further negotiations and imposes a season of perhaps fewer than 50 games.

The league’s ability to do that was reported on earlier in the week, included as part of the March agreement between the two parties. The parsing of that agreement is at the center of these contentious money talks. The players agreed to prorated salaries based on the number of games played, but the owners believe they’re able to ask for further pay cuts now that they’ve deemed it economically impossible to play even half a season without fans in the stands and pay players half their salaries. Players, distrustful of that claim, say the owners should prove it by opening their books.

The players are standing firm in not accepting further pay cuts, with union chief Tony Clark saying Thursday any proposal of further cuts would be rejected. While there was some confusion over whether the owners would stop making proposals altogether, Martino reported that the league could make another financial offer to the union.

Here’s another wrinkle: The governor of Texas recently said that fans would be allowed to attend sporting events in that state. Thursday brought a report that Major League Baseball is likely to allow the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros to have fans in the stands, signaling that governors in the 17 different states where major league teams play would have the final say on whether they could sell tickets. That could mean more revenue, a significant variable thrown into this whole thing.


RELATED: Return-to-play negotiations: How Rob Manfred and Adam Silver's roles differ

So how many games are going to be played? That remains a question without an answer.

If the players refuse further pay cuts, as they’ve said they will, then perhaps a roughly 50-game season would be in the cards. If there are concessions as negotiations continue, that number could grow. Martino outlined that if the owners agree to pay those full prorated salaries for more than 50 games, perhaps we’ll see expanded playoffs, which was part of the players’ last proposal the league rejected. Perhaps we’d see players mic’d up during games. Perhaps we’d see the union stop demanding full financial transparency from ownership.

But no budging from either side and the league’s 50-game plan seems more realistic, despite the frustration it could spark among fans. While a 50-game schedule would mean a lot more off days, creating health benefits for players related to both typical baseball maladies and the coronavirus, it could be argued it would be an illegitimate way to crown a champion. However, there’s an argument to be made that a 50-game sprint would be a fascinating contrast to baseball’s typical 162-game marathon, often criticized for its at times glacial pace.

If the two sides can come to an agreement, perhaps that wished-for July 4 Opening Day would still be possible, though teams would have to hustle to start a second round of spring training, which was originally pitched to begin next week. If they can’t, then the league’s mandated 50-game season might start closer to the end of July, with the postseason played as usual, during the month of October.

But with the league adamant about the playoffs wrapping up no later than early November, fearing an increase in COVID-19 infections come fall, time is of the essence. And that’s what makes Martino say that next week is when we’ll find out how much baseball will be played in 2020.

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