@scottmerkin I’d settle for just “offense”.
— Mysterion3000 (@Mysterion3000) January 31, 2014
No matter what happens, we never get all the way past Matt Christopher-level analysis of how home runs are hit, where they are some sort of hedonistic departure from fundamental hitting, and require the batter to suddenly whip for the fences rather than focus on everything else he’s ever cared about.
“We had gotten to the point where it was hard for us to beat clubs without pounding on them,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “We wanted to build a club that can beat you multiple ways.”
There’s room for re-examination whenever an offense is as terrible as the 2013 White Sox, but somehow criticism always seems to work its way around to questioning to whether a team that plays in a homer-friendly park should be less built around home runs.
It’s a funny place to start with the team that finished 13th in the American League in isolated power, or played empty average slappers like Gordon Beckham and Alexei Ramirez, or stuck newly powerless Paul Konerko in the heart of the order. Maybe level-swinging Conor Gillaspie is the perceived culprit. Dayan Viciedo is the poster child for recklessly gunning for home runs, and if he’s to be believed about his thumb injury sapping his power, he could have been one of team’s actual, real-live above-average hitters…if he just hit for more power. But really we’re not debating production, we’re discussing approach.
Beyond complaining about a team being too dependent on something it’s bad at and can easily profit from focusing on, the diversity talk rings too familiar to the Juan Pierre days of lauding the how and why of runs as much–where sprinting out an infield hit is looked at more fondly than a wall-single–as the number.
The White Sox haven’t organically produced hitters of any kind or significance in nearly a decade. To pretend their scrappy collection of veterans explored the upper potential of a power-based lineup is complementary, but an exaggeration. Perhaps And whether it’s been Jose Bautista batting in the No. 2 hole, or singles-hitting Allen Craig being a middle-order RBI man, there’s a neverending wave of evidence that roles do not matter, or if they do, their influence and purpose is easily drowned out by production.
Perhaps the cycle of having decent offenses when big power totals are produced (2008, 2010, 2012) and terrible ones when the power dissipates is tiring, but other teams are going to come in to U.S. Cellular and jack home runs. The White Sox would be wise to do the same.
Adam Eaton could be an on-base machine, Avisail Garcia could use his speed to pump up his batting average. Both of these are interesting qualities in terms of how effective they make each as individuals, and progressively less interesting as they become valued for how much it differentiates them from the power-centric games of Matt Davidson and Jose Abreu. Worrying about diversifying the attack and not being pigeonholed seem like playoff match-up concerns, which for the White Sox is worrying about the gravy before the turkey has been killed.
This has been a great off-season full of solid acquisitions and improvements. All fetishizing speed over power does is suggest that if they pushed aesthetics aside, it could have been better.