As we hit Memorial Day weekend, the baseball season has been going for the better part of two months and one team that is playing better than I thought it would this season is the Chicago White Sox. Coming out of spring training I had all bad vibes about Sox potential in the summer of 2012, but right now while they may not be consistent, they are doing fairly well. For a lot of reasons, including solid starting pitching and the quasi-resurgence of Adam Dunn.
When I say fairly well I say compared to the fear I had that the Sox might be horrible this season, indeed even as bad as the Cubs. (Oh, no, not that!) Starting pitching is living up to its potential and that is huge.
New manager Robin Ventura seems to be doing OK following his surprising hire with no experience to succeed Ozzie Guillen. It is also good to see Jake Peavy pitching as he did when he was a Cy Young Award winner, although it took him about two years in Chicago to regain his form. Overall, the White Sox starters have done an exemplary job. I feel for Phil Humber. He pitched a perfect game and since then has been about as imperfect as humanly possible. Getting shelled regularly, his earned run average is just shy of 6.00.
The White Sox always believed that Chris Sale was going to be a hurling star for them, but general manager Kenny Williams just wasn’t sure how he would fit in. Sale has moved between the rotation and the bullpen, but after the last couple of weeks of evidence gathering it seems he is best off as a starter.
Not so very long ago a team built around the long ball, hitting seemed likely to be Chicago’s biggest worry this season. But Paul Konerko is at .384, catcher A.J. Pierzynski (.301) seems to be hitting better with age, and even Alex Rios, who has alternated between being a bust free-agent signing and showing occasional flashes in the outfield, is batting .274.
It is Dunn, however, who has been the key. Signed to a rich contract last year, Dunn proceeded to record one of the worst hitting years for a regular in baseball history. It appeared that he had abruptly lost all of his hitting skills and that his career might be over. When Dunn, 32, started out in April the same way all indicators pointed to him being washed up. Instead, Dunn has at last righted himself, raising his average from its embarrassing low of .159 in 2011 and resuming his slugging ways. He has 14 homers and 33 RBIs with a .383 on-base percentage. His average is a middling .239, but Dunn never did hit for average.
The White Sox have not been problem free. Just the other day they announced that Addison Reed will be their new closer. Let’s see, I think Matt Thornton took a shot at it. Then there was Hector Santiago and Sale. I can’t remember if Will Ohman was an option or not, though he is doing a fine job in middle relief.
The American League Central has been a muddle since the highly favored Detroit Tigers have played no better than anyone else, so you can’t blame the White Sox for thinking that if Reed becomes a count-on-him closer they can make some noise all summer long.
Topics: A.J. Pierzynksi, Adam Dunn, Addison Reed, Alex Rios, American League Central Division, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Chris Sale, Cy Young Award, Detroit Tigers, Hector Santiago, Jake Peavy, Kenny Williams, Matt Thornton, Ozzie Guillen, Paul Konerko, Phil Humber, Robin Ventura, Will Ohman