Any chart of White Sox walk rates of recent is automatically a smoking gun, but this is admittedly a bit better than I thought, which is far more damning of my expectations than it is redeeming for the Sox.
Adam Dunn and the strange miracle that is Conor Gillaspie (a poor hitter, but a respectable-looking one) are the only regular hitters with above-average walk rates, which demonstrates why Dunn having the biggest gross decline in his walk rate is especially harmful for a team that replaced Kevin Youkilis with Jeff Keppinger. He accounts for so much by his lonesome that any decline in his work cripples the club. On the opposite end, Alexei Ramirez boosting his walk rate by nearly 27% and still having the lowest of any regular on the team is pretty special.
The point of all this, actually, is to show that for most of team, the lineup took significant steps back in terms of carving out a reliable approach. Alejandro De Aza has improbably made the long walk back to his old numbers and Rios has nearly doubled last year’s figures, but he’s neither reached unprecedented levels in terms of his career nor will he likely be around in a month.
Which gets to the worst part of this; that the young members of the lineup dot the bottom of the chart. Tyler Flowers’ batting eye was supposed to keep him afloat offensively. In attempting to cure his contact issues with aggression, he’s cost himself everything. Dayan Viciedo has regressed in every area, so this is no different. And while this season’s performance would be the best thing Gordon Beckham’s done in years if it holds up, he’s so far been an empty high-average hitter displaying none of the precocious harnessing of power and patience that made him an exciting prospect in the first place.
Hitting coach Jeff Manto may just be a scapegoat, but the only way to truly avoid being wrongly blamed, is to avoid the numbers that place torches in hands.
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