WARR baseball writer Kevin Luchansky writes about the Cubs and the White Sox weekly for WARR.com.
Also, check out Kevin’s daily baseball betting picks on NorthSideWire.
Losers of three straight, it appears as if the Chicago White Sox have taken a step backwards from mediocrity this week. In doing so, they’ve fallen under 500 (33-36 record) and now sit alone in 5th place — dead last — in the mediocre American League Central division.
The good news for the White Sox and their fans is that despite being in fifth place, they’re only 4.5 games behind the division leading Detroit Tigers at 35-29. The bad news? Well, the next four series the White Sox play look like this: Giants, Twins, Orioles, Blue Jays. With the exception of maybe the Twins, that is one killer stretch.
Luckily the set against the MLB’s best record Giants is of the two-game variety and at US Cellular. Less lucky for the White Sox is having to go on the road to face Baltimore and the Blue Jays, the two teams sit atop the AL East division standings.
Not to get too far ahead of ourselves, but as soon as that brutal road trip ends, the Sox play host to the Angels. In other words, the series being played over the next few weeks should help the front office determine if they’re going to be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline. And if they’ve played themselves out of contention by the All-Star break, it’ll give White Sox brass the option to start talking trades with other executives in Minneapolis at the All-Star game.
Player Showcase: Adam Eaton
If the White Sox are to be successful on this road trip, it starts and finishes with the offense and playing a big role in the lineup is table-setter Adam Eaton. Eaton has been swinging a hot bat over the past week, posting a .318 batting average, driving in three, scoring three times and maintaining an .444 on-base percentage in his last 27 plate appearances. Friday night was the highlight of this stretch as Eaton reached base five times, going 2-for-2 with three walks, a run scored and a run driven in a 7-2 loss to the Royals. These were solid numbers for a guy who was taking a bit longer than expected to get comfortable at the plate again following an early season disabled list stint.
Drawing walks at a rate of 18.5 percent is an impressive figure for a lead-off man that struggles to draw walks, as told by a season walk rate of just 8.5%. Now, that figure can stay as is if Eaton can improve upon his season .327 on-base percentage mark. Not to say .327 is an unacceptable number, it isn’t far off the league average, but a slight tweak in his approach and added patience could tweak that number in the right direction.
A line-drive hitter with a .760 batting average in that category, the left-handed hitting Eaton not surprisingly favors right-handed pitching, but not by as much as one would expect. Eaton is hitting lefties at a .232 average and righties at .269. Not too much of a disparity until you look at the individual categories.
Sure there has been less chances to produce against left-handed pitchers for Eaton, but the production against them is almost next to nothing — just one extra base hit, five runs driven in and three walks drawn against lefties. Against righties, Eaton has six doubles, three triples, 14 runs driven in and his lone home run.
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