The Chicago White Sox kick off the second half of their season Friday, looking to improve on their 45-51 record. Fans saw a handful of players finish the first half of the season red hot and they noticed a few that definitely did not. In order for the White Sox to continue improving on last year’s record, the contributors that ended the first half hot will need to continue their recent dominance, while those that were not must find a way to turn things around. Let’s take a look at who’s hot and who’s not going into the second half of the season.
- Connor Gillaspie, 3B – HOT
So far in the July, according to SI.com, the White Sox third baseman is batting .378. Connor also seems to have found his power stroke, hitting 4 HRs in his last 11 games to go along with a whopping 1.342 OPS. If not for his limited number of at-bats, Gillespie’s .326 batting average would be good enough for 6th best in the American League and 8th best in the majors. By the end of the season, those number of at-bats shouldn’t be an issue and Gillespie could push himself into contention for the AL batting title. Continuing to perform like he did the first half of July will certainly help.
- Adam Eaton, OF – NOT
The All Star break couldn’t come at a better time for the young center fielder. July has not been a kind month to Adam, as he is hitting only .222 for the month with a .300 OBP. These are not the type of numbers the White Sox expect from their leadoff hitter and offensive catalyst. Fans are hoping that some much needed rest and time off this week will calm nagging wrist and ankle injuries that kept him out of action the last two games of the season’s first half.
- Jose Quintana, SP – HOT
Over his last five starts, the young hurler is showing why the White Sox view him as one of their few untouchable assets. In those last five appearances he is 2-0 with a 1.51 ERA. His K/9 ratio over that same span has been an impressive 9.59, allowing him to escape a couple of tight jams along the way. His 5-7 record for the year may not accurately reflect his enormous contributions to the team, but he still has the opportunity to reach double digit victories for the first time in his career.
- Gordon Beckham, 2B – NOT
Beckham is mired in perhaps the worst slump of his career, hitting only .114 through the first half of July. Scott Merkin reported that Robin Ventura held Gordon out of the first game of the last weekend’s series in Cleveland to allow him to clear his head and forget about constant trade rumors. To his credit, Beckham is not using the trade talks as an excuse, but I agree with the skipper that it has been a huge distraction this month, and had a negative effect on Gordon’s approach. If Beckham is still playing the White Sox after the deadline, I expect to see instant improvement.
- John Danks, SP – HOT
Danks used to remind White Sox fans of a box chocolates, you never knew what… well, you know what I mean. However, the veteran southpaw seems to have found a groove his second season removed from shoulder surgery. Over his last ten starts, Danks owns a 5-2 record with a 2.68 ERA, helping Chris Sale stabilize the front end of the rotation. Also the subject of trade speculation, the veteran is doing a good job increasing his value to a contender looking for an arm for the postseason.
- Tyler Flowers, C – NOT
I like Tyler. He seems like a nice guy and a hard worker. Unfortunately, he may be working a bit too hard mentally when he’s at the plate. When I watch him in the batter’s box, I feel like his his head is going to explode from overthinking his approach to hitting the baseball. If he could relax and let his natural abilities take over, he would be just fine. I’m sure he’d at least do better than the last two and a half months, during which he’s batted .154. The only thing keeping him in the lineup is his command of the pitching staff. I hope for the team’s sake, and for Tyler’s, that he figures out whatever is holding him back at the plate, because the ability is there if he can just get out of his own way mentally.
The White Sox open the second half of the season at home against the Houston Astros. It’s a very winnable series for the Sox, and possibly just what they need to get off to a fast start out of the break. It’s anybody’s guess what will happen the second half of the year, with trades, call ups, and playoff races around the corner. The most that this team can ask for, other than a reliable closer, is for their hot players to stay hot, and for those that are not, to start heating up.