Should Major League Baseball rename the Comeback Player of the Year award this year to “Most Improved White Sox of the Year Award?” Think about it, the White Sox are carrying 3 players who all have very legitimate cases to be made for this award. With so much being made of the White Sox and their question marks at the beginning of the year, I thought it would be fun to breakdown those members of our Sox who have erased the question mark next to their names (especially now that the season is half over and we have a good sample size to look at).
First up we have Mr. Adam Dunn.
Lets just do a quick stat line comparison between last year and where he’s at right now:
BA: .159 HR: 11 RBI: 42 R: 36 SLG: .277 BB: 75 OBP: .292 OPS: .569
2012 (so far)
BA: .204 HR: 29 RBI: 67 R: 56 SLG: .498 BB: 75 OBP: .350 OPS: .849
Just by glancing at these numbers, the difference is pretty remarkable. We have to remember that Dunn only played in 122 games last year because he was in such a slump. This season Dunn has already passed last years totals in Home Runs, RBI’s, Runs Scored, and assuming he walks one more time in the next 50+ games, his walks. He’s also destroying last years slugging percentage and batting average (although we don’t pay him to hit for average and his average last year was so historically bad, that hitting .202 now seems like a great thing in comparison). I think Dunn can make a strong case for the CPY award this season. Hes up near the lead in homers and walks in the American League and has been producing at a rate that is historically accurate for him. I think his season last year was so horrendous that someone else is really going to have to show a lot of improvement to give him a run for his money (assuming Dunn stays on his current path). We have to remember the numbers he put up last year represented one of (if not) the biggest, most drastic offensive drop off across the board in the history of this great game and because of that, whatever he does this year, seems that much more impressive.
Next up, Alex Rios.
Alex had a pretty weak season last year and to be honest, a lot of what I hated about Rios last year was the amount of effort he was seemingly putting into his everyday performance. But so far in 2012 he seems to be a new man, representing arguably the best all around hitter on the team. Lets take a look at the stat line comparison.
BA: .227 HR: 13 2B: 22 RBI: 44 SLG: .348 OBP: .265 OPS: .613
2012 (so far)
BA: .313 HR: 15 2B: 22 RBI: 57 SLG: .528 OBP: .348 OPS: .876
With Alex this season, we have seen what looks like a new hitter. Hitting the ball hard just about every time he makes contact. Alex has been a spark plug in the middle of our lineup and has really thrown some protection to the guys hitting around him. If we look across the board at the major categories I have listed (As I see them relative to the hitter) Alex has already surpassed, or is on pace to surpass all of his totals from last season. He has really been a big reason we are still where we are in the standings, coming out and doing it on a consistent basis while other key guys have been streaky.
Last but not least, Jake Peavy
The Jakemeister has been very solid this season. After ending last year with a sea of question marks surrounding him due to his surgery and his lack of involvement, health and production for the few years we have had him, Jake has come out and truly been special. For Jake, I will choose not to lay down a stat line because I feel like Jake has pitched much better than what his record would suggest (getting a total of 2 runs of support in a stretch of 4 starts going at least 7 innings in each start and not getting a win out of any of them). Jake is near the top of the American League for complete games (4) and has been an absolute work horse, already racking up 134 innings pitched (surpassing his entire total from last season). Hes lowered his WHIP and ERA. The kicker for Jake is, he’s done all this coming off a surgery that had never been performed on a pitcher before. He literally had a muscle in his arm reattached to his bone. Some people were’nt even sure if he was going to be able to pitch another inning after the surgery and he’s out on the mound dominating.
Best argument for each guy:
Dunn: His homeruns, walks, and RBI’s have skyrocketed back to where they historically have been. As a comeback player, one needs to significantly improve from the season before and no one has “Dunn” that more than Adam.
Rios: He’s improved in every major offensive category, he went from dog in the middle of the lineup last year, to doing it all and carrying a team when its other members have struggled.
Peavy: He’s dominated hitters and shown an incredible amount of stamina going very deep into almost every start, while drastically improving his numbers and performance from last year…. all after a muscle detachment surgery, the likes of which Major League Baseball had never seen.
Bottom line, the question marks we had at the beginning of the year have been answered 3 of the 4 key guys I referenced in the off season as being necessary to our success have been there and said success has followed.