POUND FOR POUND
SOX HAVE DEVELOPED A SUPERPOWER THIS SEASON — THEY’RE PULVERIZING THE BALL
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. ✶
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.