Saturday, April 21, 2012

Geek Out Stat: Magnificent Mile Bombers

    First blog entry and I must say, it's already gotten off to a great start. White Sox SP Philip Humber just threw a perfect game at Seattle, becoming the third member of the White Sox to throw a perfect gem. Obviously, the Seattle Mariners can't hit a beach ball and Safeco Field is a cavernous domain. But you have to tip your cap to Humber because performances like his today are quite rare. The pitcher for the South Side ball club struck out nine M's and only threw 96 pitches. The perfect game was also Humber's first win of the season. Therefore, congratulations to Philip Humber of the White Sox on throwing a perfect game.
    Speaking of the White Sox, I found a statistic that puzzled me last night. Amongst all of baseball, this is where Chicago (AL) ranks in the following offensive categories:

Runs scored: 16th (56)
Batting average: 20th (.241)
On-base percentage: 22nd (.306)
Slugging percentage: 9th (.421)

   Did you catch that? Ninth in slugging percentage but 20th in batting average, 16th in runs scored and 22nd in OBP. They rank ahead of the DETROIT TIGERS in slugging percentage, who picked up Prince Fielder this off-season. How you explain this sort of madness?! The MLB's top ten in slugging percentage include:

  1. Texas Rangers (.521)
  2. St. Louis Cardinals (.486)
  3. New York Yankees (.478)
  4. Colorado Rockies (.453)
  5. Baltimore Orioles [!] (.451)
  6. Atlanta Braves (.439)
  7. Boston Red Sox (.434)
  8. Tampa Bay Rays (.424)
  9. Chicago White Sox (.421)
  10. Minnesota Twins (.411)
    Note that all the teams ranked ahead of Chicago in slugging percentage also rank ahead of the White Sox in runs scored, batting average and OBP as of April 21st. So how can this be explained?
    For starters, the basic definition of "slugging percentage" according to is the number of total bases divided by the number of at-bats. It measures the power of a batter. It's worth noting that catcher A.J. Pierzynski leads the club in this category with a .714 slugging %, which ranks fourth in the AL, by the way.
   Now Pierzynski hasn't posted a stellar slugging % for his entire career. In fact, his percentage is .425. But the two-time All-Star had been on a hot streak to start off the season. He leads the South Siders in home runs (four), batting average (.357) and RBIs (fourteen). He's also struck out only three times in only twelve games and has even hit a triple.
   Pierzynski isn't alone in the White Sox's early power display. Designated hitter Adam Dunn has finally found his old form, bumping up his batting average to .245 while hitting three homers and twelve RBIs. And of course, first baseman Paul Konerko has aided the ChiSox's lineup in the first month of the season. He's batting .352, hitting two bombs and eleven RBIs.
   Did I mention that the White Sox are fifth in all of MLB in home runs with 16 dingers? They lead the majors in triples with four and they rank tenth in doubles with 22 two-baggers. All of this is done under first-year manager Robin Ventura, who had massive shoes to fill by trying to replace former manager Ozzie Guillen. In 2005, Guillen steered the White Sox to their first World Series since 1917 and bolted for the newly-named "Miami" Marlins this off-season. Let's not forget that U.S. Cellular Field is notorious for being a hitter's ballpark.
   What does this all mean? Well, Chicago's AL squad is playing out to be a pleasant surprise to start off the season. Still, they have a small chance of winning the AL Central once the Tigers' bats start to heat up. But with the Red Sox and Angels down, they could at least hold out hope for one of the two wild-cards.

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