As one can expect when a team’s record is 32-47, Chicago White Sox fans have been voicing their criticisms against management.
The novelty of having former crowd-favorite Robin Ventura in the dugout has worn off and now his ability to win games is being questioned. New General Manager Rick Hahn has been feeling the heat as well, being accused of being Kenny William’s puppet now that the trade deadline is just a month away.
Believe it or not, management is not to blame for the White Sox shortcomings. Whether or not you agree with me, baseball games are inevitably won and lost on the field. So as we approach the All-Star break in a couple weeks, let’s look at what has lost the Sox so many games.
On paper, the Sox should have one of the best defenses in all of baseball. With players known for their glove talent such as Gordon Beckham and Alexei Ramirez, it’s hard to believe the current state of the Sox defense.
The fielders possess a .981 fielding percentage, which is 14th in the American League. This is a far cry from last year’s franchise best percentage of .9883. Compared to the 30 unearned runs of last year, the 2013 Sox have already let up 32. Equally as perturbing is that the Sox are on pace to make 118 errors for the season. Put in perspective, that looks pretty depressing next to the 70 from last year.
The reason the Sox may be falling all over each other in the grass may be because they’ve played more one-run games than any other team in baseball (12-18 in those contests).When asked about the situation, both Ventura and Beckham have speculated that these types of situations have the Sox defense trying to do too much to win games. This may seem like a Little League mistake to make, like a coach saying, “Don’t worry about the runners Billy, just focus on throwing the ball to first.” However, it’s hard to argue with the evidence.
Look to June 25th against the Mets. With two outs in the ninth and a runner on third, the Mets popped up into a seemingly game-ending play. Running in from third was Conor Gillaspie, calling for the ball the whole way. Whether he didn’t hear him or just didn’t care, Beckham decided this ball was his to catch instead. His overzealousness saw him running into Addison Reed, tripping into Gillaspie, and allowing the tying run to score. The Hawk had it right when he exclaimed, “And we find another way… and that’s hard to believe,” referencing the Sox’ inability to close out games.
Another prime example was June 23rd against the Royals when Alexei Ramirez’s eighth-inning error allowed the winning run to score, stopping the Sox’ chances of a road sweep. These errors may be a result of a losing team fighting desperately to win close games or it could be something else. Regardless, the fact remains that a crew which is essentially the same players as in 2012 just cannot get the outs they should.
The Sox have a lot to think about over the All-Star break if they wish to make this a respectable season. They’ll be looking at even more empty seats if they can’t fill the holes in their mitts, though. No one wants to watch a team full of sub .280 hitters running into each other as they struggle to catch routine fly balls.