Jun 19, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Chicago White Sox center fielder Alejandro De Aza (30) celebrates with shortstop Alexei Ramirez (10) after hitting a home run in the first inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Sad lead-off home runs from Alejandro De Aza

On Wednesday night in Minnesota, Alejandro De Aza turned-and-burned on a 91 mph Kevin Correia fastball and ripped it 401 feet out to right field. It was his eighth home run leading off the White Sox offense in a game since the start of 2012.

Since he’s hit 18 home runs total in that time, and eight home runs accounts for 44% of his dingers in 21% of his plate appearances, suffice to say that Alejandro likes jumping on pitchers when they’re still feeling their way into the game.

The White Sox are 3-5 in these games, and I’m surprised it wasn’t a lot worse.

That’s obviously recency bias speaking. The Sox are 1-3 this year when De Aza circles the bases before his teammates step out of the dugout and very painfully dropped two games last September when their offense sputtered after an encouraging kickstart from De Aza. The most notable case was when he took Justin Verlander deep to start a Sep 2 showdown in Detroit, only for the Sox to fail to score again until the ninth in a damaging loss. Just this April 20, a De Aza solo blast was the only run the Sox scored against the Twins in a game started by Vance Worley (who’s still in Triple-A, by the way).

Only once in these eight games–and it came against Josh Tomlin–have the White Sox scored any additional runs in the first inning after De Aza’s blast. That’s a 1.25 runs per inning average–the average team racks up 1.5 with such a head start –and it has led to only 3.34 total runs per game across the eight contests .

And not that it’s fair to ask “what are you doing besides hitting home runs?,” but De Aza has remarkably not taken a walk in a single one of these games and struck out 27.8% of the time.

That’s not mentioned to launch into some critique of De Aza’s plate approach in these games, because success is success and the White Sox can’t quibble with the form it comes in, but this isemblematic of their as a whole. Moments and breakthroughs that should generate momentum peter out into nothing. Situations that seem like they offer an opportunity for the White Sox to jump all over a struggling pitcher–especially a mediocre strike-thrower like Kevin Correia–quickly wither away into nothing. It makes home runs, and the encouragement they offer, read as fool’s gold.

 

Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan

 

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