Sunday, August 17, 2008

White Sox use voodoo magick (home runs, good pitching) to win games

"They just aren't clicking" is one my (least) favorite sports writer cliches. It's use comes from this thought process:

*writer's brain*
"I can't think of any reason why this team/player isn't doing well. They have all the talent in the world and should be better, but I don't feel like looking up stats or coming up with a real answer so I'll just write 'they just aren't clicking.' Beautiful."

The White Sox, apparently, just aren't clicking.


one of the top five MVP candidates in Carlos Quentin
the third best run diff in baseball at +80
the AL's third best OPS at .786
174 homers, first in all of baseball
70 quality starts, second in the AL
a 1.30 WHIP, third in the AL

That + rest of your division playing like poop = first place. Not that difficult.

I mean, really, the Sox? The Sox are good enough to be in first place -- evidently -- but nothing about this team screams "division winner," let alone "World Series."

The Twins, meanwhile, are screaming DIVISION WINNER from the rooftops. What follows is the Sox lineup along with their HRs. How the fuck are they in first!?!?!?

OF Quentin - 33
OF Dye - 28
DH Thome -25
OF/1B Swisher - 17
3B Crede - 17
OF Griffey Jr. - 15
C Pierzynski - 11
SS Cabrera - 6
2B Uribe - 4

Their lineup is painfully one-dimensional, tailored to their hitting-friendly home park, U.S. Cellular Field.

That dimension being hitting home runs, a.k.a the best result a hitter can get.

GM: "One thing I don't want on my team is hitters that hit too many home runs. You need guys who can bunt, run, sacrifice, buntacrifice, stealandrun..."
Fans of that team: *collective groan*

This isn't the NBA where there are only so many shots to go around on a team. Each hitter is an isolated incident with a home run being the best possible outcome. A lineup with nine hitters who have 30 homers each is fucking nuts while one with two guys with 30 and a bunch of David Eckstein's sucks.

Their rotation has a 4.07 ERA, right in the middle of the AL pack,

But they have the second most quality starts, third best WHIP and fifth best OPS allowed. They seem fine to me.

with a bit more power pitching than most and a little more control than others. Their bullpen is pretty good (3.49 ERA), but it's not great.

Jenks is pretty good. A 0.97 WHIP and 24K/10BB with 25 saves in 28 tries. Linebrink, also pitching well. He's got 19 holds, a 0.92 WHIP and 33K/6BB. Even the ageless Octavio Dotel is pretty nasty with his 75K/24BB in 54 innings and a 1.15 WHIP.

Three very good to awesome pitchers (at least this season) in your bullpen = pretty good, not great. They don't have K-Rod!!!!

They're tough to beat in The Cell (42-19) but awful away from it (26-33).

Sounds like every team!

Teams "in the hunt" with similar records on the road:

Tampa 29-31
Boston 28-35
Minnesota 26-31
LA Dodgers 26-32

You shitty ass division/wild card contenders. Play better on the road!

They hit a lot of homers -- 172 of them, the most in baseball, including four straight Thursday afternoon against the Royals -- but when they don't hit them, they stink.

Maybe because hitting homers is awesome and when it doesn't happen it dramatically decreases ANY team's chances of winning. Except Anaheim, they're so plucky!

They have little speed. They're not particularly good defensively.

Both instrumental in "winning the right way." Not doing so causes sports writers to be confused.

Yet the Sox, despite the quadruple shots on Thursday, aren't clicking like Williams would like them to click. They aren't clicking, in fact, like the probably less-talented but seemingly just-as-good Twins are.

Clicking clickers click well on click trip.

The Twins have a +47 run diff. which, while not awful, is not what a first place team should have. They're lucky. And not as good as the Sox.

And, pretty soon, Williams won't be able to make another trade to try to better this team. Pretty soon, we're going to have to accept the Sox for what they are.

A divison contender that hits a metric ton of homers and has a solid staff?

Ken Williams being dumb

Right before the trade deadline, Williams made another bold move, trading for Griffey. Critics wondered why Williams would put the 38-year-old Griffey in centerfield, a position he hadn't played in years, and pointed to his lack of production at the plate. ... Williams also talks about the "threat" of Griffey in the lineup.

/Ken Williams being dumb

The Sox run out a lineup that relies almost solely on swinging for the fences. When they hit a home run, they are 61-28. When they don't, they are 7-24.

This is a junk stat. The Sox won last night 2-1. Guess what? They didn't hit a homer.

Here's my stat: The White Sox are 69-53 when scoring at least zero runs. They are 0-0 when scoring less than zero runs.

In the postseason, it's imperative to have other ways to score when the home runs dry up.

No, no it's not. They should be living by the sword and dying by the sword. I don't want Quentin up there bunting over Pierykksiyrznski with one out. That is dumb.

But the Sox's reliance on power has come at the cost of speed on the basepaths. Gone are the days of Scott Podsednik swiping 40 or 50 bases. The Tigers are the only team in the AL that has stolen fewer bases than the Sox.

Scott Podsednik was and is an awful baseball player. He has a career .337 OBP - .329 this season. He's like a worse Juan Pierre, which is saying something. Pods also gets caught a lot, including 23 times (with 59 steals) in that magical 2005 season. In 300+ PA going back to '07 (so what if he was hurt) he has an astounding 22 steals and 8 CS. *foghooooooooorn*

Is a chip on the shoulder, a so-so pitching staff and a big-swinging lineup enough to win the division? Is it enough to do more?


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