Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Second Week Thoughts

Last October, I wrote how the Sox were a team of extremes, scoring fewer than 3 runs 45 times, while also scoring more than 7 runs 41 times. They did exceptionally poorly in games in which they scored fewer than three runs, losing 44 of those 45 games. Just two weeks into this season, the White Sox already have two victories where they have scored fewer than three runs – opening day vs. Cleveland and Buehrle’s 1 hour, 39 minute gem on Saturday. They are actually 2-1 so far in games where they have scored fewer than 3 runs. And more than 7 runs? They have only had 1 of those games and won it, the 8-5 victory over Minnesota two Saturdays ago. By this time last year, they had scored over 7 runs four times.

It is beating a dead horse at this point to say how poorly the White Sox have done in taking walks and getting on base. After another Radke zero-walk outing, they now have a total of 19 walks in 14 games, which is
beyond pathetic I mean, in any 14 game stretch, the Sox should be walking by accident more than 19 times. 19 walks in 499 plate appearances….that’s a team full of Ozzie Guillens! Oh, wait. Talk about building a team in your image.

On the pitching side, the Sox have not improved their walk totals from last year – by walking 46 batters in 14 games, they are on almost exactly the same pace (3.28/game) as 2004, where they walked 3.25 per game.

The biggest plus pitching wise, however, has been the prevention of the long ball. They allowed 224 home runs in 162 games last year, about 1.38 homers per game. This year, they have allowed only 11 in 14 games, which is .78 per game. Excel says that is a 43% decline from last year. Since home runs are of critical importance to today’s game, the decrease in home runs allowed is important. I would hope it holds up – like the Sox’s pitiful walk rate, it probably won’t – but an improvement in the dinger department will go a looooong way to improving the team’s pitching this year.

It’s also nice to see the Sox beat the Twinkies four of their first five games. They did so despite a series of horrible calls against them – including the phantom balk on Contreras, the strikes given to Johan Santana that ESPN’s “K-Zone” showed were out of the zone, the bad call on Rowand at second last night, etc. It’s good to see a little luck come our way.

Return of the 10 Game Segments

As I posted last year, I like to track the Sox’s season in terms of 10-game segments (also discussed here and here). The point of all this is to shorten the season into bite-size packages to judge how the White Sox are performing. A good team will have a bunch of 7-3 and 8-2 segments to offset any 4-6 or 3-7 stretches, will have no more than one 2-8 or 1-9 segments, and will otherwise play 6-4 or 5-5 baseball per every 10 games. The bottom line is that the Sox need five or six 7-3 or better stretches to be competitive this year.

The Sox finished their first 10-game segments 7-3. A good start.

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