Before Tuesday night's game, White Sox hitting coach Todd Steverson confirmed what scant early returns, Tuesday night's actual game, and dozens upon dozens of irate TCS staff emails have been hinting at all along: the Sox lineup has been delivering a poignant Dayan Viciedo tribute in the early weeks of the 2015 season.
The Sox are going to have to bust their butts all year to clear the stink of that D- off their GPA, but are the raw numbers any better? They are not.
To wit, through Tuesday the Sox:
--Were swinging at pitches outside the zone more than any other AL team except for the Twins, who actually have an array of built-in tax breaks with their state government if they keep their walk totals below a certain quota.
--Were just, swinging, man, more than anyone in the AL.
--Somehow swinging at all these pitches out of the zone while seeing the third-most pitches in the zone of all AL teams. Strikes are in ample supply, and yet they swing at balls. That's commitment.
Thankfully, a lot of this madness is out of character scuffling from people we have been told to trust: Adam Eaton, Melky Cabrera, etc.. Surely the Sox hopes could just die on the vine just waiting on these guys to return to normal, but they're not supposed to. And then both those guys are contracted through 2017 or beyond, so if they actually were capable of a whole season of this, they can always try again.
The original premise of this piece that while everything seemed to be going to hell--Avisail Garcia--the 23-year-old outfielder with promising hit and power tools (and also contact issues and low power production_ might actually be trending the right way. Then he whiffed twice and struck out with the bases loaded in the eighth Tuesday night and screwed up a lot of his momentum and my enthusiasm, and the fact that he raised his swinging-strike rate a whole percentage point in one night speaks to how goofy early it is in the year right now. Nothing stabalizes quicker than whiff and strikeout rates, but nothing stabilizes this fast.
Garcia's strikeout rate--so much lower four days ago!--is now at 23.4%, pretty much his regular average since he came over to Sox and got regular playing time whenever his shoulder was attached. But check the whiff rate, still!:
That last figure is very high, but it's not "among league leaders high," which is important. Garcia is somehow too impatient to ever be a 30% strikeout rate guy, but has managed his mid-20% rates while whiffing at Tyler Flowers' rates. If he could swing-and-miss at mere Jay Bruce levels combined with his hacking frequency, he could actually manage that ~.280 batting average that he probably needs for a decent OBP...on account of all that hacking.
Obviously the Sox offense has been mostly garbage, Garcia's good numbers are currently the product of insane BABIP and until he starts cranking bombs to left field he might never be a player worth talking about, but that take on 1-2 before he struck out helplessly was something, right?
C'mon! Try to be positive. I'm trying, and more importantly, Garcia appears to be trying too. That friggin' whiff rate was around 10% when I first conceived of this post and he's been ruining it ever since, but it's an intriguing tiny nugget of hope to monitor if he can stay in reasonable territory.