POUND FOR POUND

SOX HAVE DE­VEL­OPED A SU­PER­POWER THIS SEA­SON — THEY’RE PULVERIZIN­G THE BALL

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS - BY STEVE GREEN­BERG | sgreen­berg@sun­times.com | @slgreen­berg

In a late sum­mer as topsy-turvy and tu­mul­tuous as this, there are only two things we can count on. One is we can’t count on a damn thing. Well, ex­cept for the other thing.

And the other thing is the White Sox and their blar­ing boom­sticks, their tor­tur­ous trun­cheons, their Her­culean ham­mers! You know, their bats.

The Sox have a slug­ger’s chance against any op­po­nent in base­ball this sea­son be­cause they — how to put this? — hit the be­je­sus out of ev­ery­thing that moves. No, we can’t count on the Sox reach­ing the play­offs, knock­ing out one heavy­weight af­ter an­other and win­ning a World Se­ries cham­pi­onship for the first time since 2005. But we can be sure that, wher­ever their more-fun-all-thetime mini-sea­son goes from here, they’ll keep swing­ing with dan­ger­ous in­ten­tions.

“That’s a re­ally good team over there,”

Roy­als starter Danny Duffy said Thurs­day af­ter the Sox whaled on him in an 11-6 vic­tory. “And they hit mis­takes.”

Mis­takes? Ei­ther ev­ery pitcher they’re fac­ing is a blun­der­ing tomato can or the Sox are hit­ting plenty of non-mis­takes, too. A team doesn’t just “mis­take” its way to the top of the Amer­i­can League of­fen­sive rank­ings in pretty much ev­ery cat­e­gory, from bat­ting av­er­age (.267 en­ter­ing Fri­day’s game) to home runs (68) to op­pos­ing pitch­ers made to drop to the dirt and curl up in the fe­tal po­si­tion (still tab­u­lat­ing).

The Sox might not be the best team in the AL, but they sure are No. 1 — not only in av­er­age and homers but also in runs (198 en­ter­ing Fri­day’s game), hits (349), .OPS (.805), to­tal bases (619) and bat­ting av­er­age on balls in play (.315). There’s a fancy acro­nym for that last stat, “BABIP,” and it’s a very big deal. At least that’s what num­bers geeks tell me when I can get them to put down their slide rules, stick their pen­cils back in their pocket pro­tec­tors and ex­plain things to me as if I were a cave­man.

On the down­side, the Sox strike out a ton — 354 times be­fore Fri­day, also first in the AL — and have grounded into the most dou­ble plays (31). Some­times it makes you shake your fist at the sky. Then Luis Robert hits you with a 458-foot up­per­cut and you’re deliri­ously happy again.

Speak­ing of Robert, he en­tered the dugout Thurs­day af­ter hit­ting the type of 458foot blast that seem­ingly only he can hit and found team­mates’ mouths agape. “Wow, you’re strong,” he heard.

But this Sox of­fense would be strong even with­out one of the most bal­ly­hooed rook­ies in fran­chise his­tory. Look at Jose Abreu, who, af­ter the se­ries opener in Kansas City, was lead­ing the league in hits (49), RBI (36) and to­tal bases (96). Any way you slice it, that’s MVP stuff. And look at reign­ing AL bat­ting champ Tim An­der­son, tear­ing the cover off the ball again at .347, sec­ond in the league to the Yan­kees’ DJ LeMahieu. An­der­son also ranked fourth in OPS at .999.

Sox pitch­ing is hold­ing up its end of the bar­gain. A staff led by Lu­cas Gi­olito and Dal­las Keuchel — and with fel­low starter Dy­lan Cease com­ing on strong — has its own num­bers to boast about. In the AL, only the di­vi­sion-ri­val In­di­ans have been dra­mat­i­cally bet­ter on the mound.

Try not to get caught up in the Sox’ 5-8 record against the In­di­ans and the de­fend­ing di­vi­sion cham­pion Twins. Think about two things in­stead. One, the In­di­ans swing like they’re un­der­wa­ter. Two, the Twins are 5-8 against the Roy­als and Tigers, whom the Sox have pum­meled to the tune of a 12-2 record.

Mean­while, en­joy the show Sox hit­ters keep putting on more nights than not. Bam — there goes an­other one.

Wow, they’re strong. ✶

ORLIN WAG­NER/AP

Sox rookie Luis Robert belts a three-run homer Thurs­day night in Kansas City — a 458-foot bomb that left even his fel­low big hit­ters in the dugout in awe.

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