Danks has arrived; will fanfare?

John Danks might have been the underdog entering his matchup against Felix Hernandez, but after watching him throw eight innings of one-run ball, we might have to reconsider his standing in relation to the cream of the crop.
If Danks isn’t elite now, when will he be?
It’s not like this year’s version of Danks is completely new. In some ways, he’s been this good before. His walk and strikeout rates were both slightly better in 2008 than they are this year (and they’re good this year). Up until tonight, Danks had a lower ERA, too (3.32).
But 2010 Danks has three things in his favor:
No. 1: Quantity. By throwing eight inning, Danks now averages 6 2/3 innings per start this season.  He’s on pace for 220 innings, which would blow by his previous best of 200 1/3, and it would be his third straight year of 200+ innings if you’re willing to count his postseason victory over Tampa Bay in 2008.
No. 2: Hits allowed. Opponents are hitting .219 off him this year, and while it’s hard to believe he can finish with a BAA that low, he’s a guy who keeps clips down.  He limited opponents to .245 and .246 the previous two years, and when he owns both sides of the plate with his cutter boring in and changeup diving away, he gets a lot of weak contact.
No. 3: Home runs allowed. It seemed like 2009 was a happy medium for Danks when it came to surrendering the long ball, as he had settled in between his 2007 and 2008 home run rates.  Now we’ll have to re-evaluate. Take a look at his HR/9s:

  • 2007: 1.81
  • 2008: 0.69
  • 2009: 1.26
  • 2010: 0.47

He gets a fair share of grounders (a career-high 47.5 percent entering this start), but he’s able to keep the ball in the park by getting inside with that cutter.  On nights like Monday, hitters are lucky to get their thumbs on it. He’s bruising forearms on some swings.
Jake Peavy, with his big fastball, big talk and self-reflexive profanity, was supposed to be the ace of this staff. Danks has turned into the tone-setter instead. In the middle of the summer, when hitters find their grooves, humid air helps the ball carry and outfielders routinely run out of room in U.S. Cellular Field, White Sox starters have allowed two home runs this month.
This bears repeating. White Sox starters — including junkballing Freddy Garcia, soft-tossing Mark Buehrle and scattershot Daniel Hudson — have thrown 112 innings. They have allowed two homers.
If you want to add it to the above chart, that’s a home run rate of 0.16. And Danks, who hasn’t watched one of his own pitches sail into the stands since June 27, is leading the way.
Best yet, with four straight victories and seven in his last nine decisions, Danks has learned how to win!  People who watch the Sox are well aware of the way the Sox lineup has abandoned him routinely, but for better or for worse, pitchers still need to rack up the W’s in order to really receive consideration.
And you can’t even pin it on wins, considering FanGraphs’ Dave Cameron, who uses everything but wins to evaluate pitchers, said before the season, “Danks is not that much more valuable than [Jose] Lopez. Sorry, he’s just not.”  According to WAR, Danks is a top 10 pitcher this year; Lopez is the 12th-least-valuable position player.
I don’t use that to rag on Cameron (even though it’s still funny), but it illustrates that Danks hasn’t exactly fired up the baseball populace, traditional or sabermetric, for some reason.
Heads should start turning now, because Danks has turned into a complete package. He’s pitched like this for three years in a row, with an ERA+ of 130 (and climbing!) over that stretch. He’s battled through nagging injuries to finish strong. He’s won a 163rd game and an elimination game in the playoffs. He’s accomplished all of these by the age of 25, and without much-publicized programs with a name like “The Johnny Rules” to manage his workload.
The only shortcoming on his resume is that he’s never won more than 13 games in a season. He’s at 11 now, and if the last couple months are any indication, those precious W’s are finally falling into place, too.
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David Haugh’s column on Kenny Williams’ options brings us another Paul Konerko quote. You’ll never guess, but the Captain still doesn’t think changes are necessary:

Inside the Sox’s clubhouse before either Williams or Guillen addressed baseball’s Hallmark holiday — the manufactured, overhyped July 31 trade deadline — Konerko spoke in a volume much lower than his bosses. But with words that should carry the most weight in this potentially pivotal week.
“The character of this team and the makeup is why we’re probably competing at all,” Konerko said. “That’s a fragile thing and you have to watch that … but who knows, you could add somebody in a move that actually enhances that.”

I’ve said before that I understand why Konerko says this. I also understand that it can make a difference if a clubhouse is full of players who understand and embrace their roles.
Still, with every passing reference to preserving this precious balance, I start to think Mark Kotsay is pulling the strings behind it all, as if his beard contains the secrets to athletic success, and he distributes clippings of wisdom to his teammates in sandwich bags.
It seems weird that there is concern about the plight of a DH whose OPS has languished below .700 for all but 10 days of the season. But stranger things have happened, such as wringing hands over Jayson Nix’s White Sox future when discussing whether Jim Thome should return.
If I were Kotsay, there’s still one more stop he can pull before the deadline.  Since he’s basically a more straight-laced, union-abiding version of Kevin Millar, he should print out this story and slip it under Williams’ door.

“Everybody is looking at stats … I get it,” Millar, who signed a minor-league contract with the Cubs, said Friday on “The Waddle & Silvy Show” on ESPN 1000. “But my point is when you’re making a team and trying to bring in a bunch of different personalities I think everybody’s got a certain amount of intangibles that they bring.
“Obviously, I’ll bring some leadership qualities. I’ve won a World Series. Having a chance to play with guys like Ryan Dempster and Derrek Lee, we came up together in Florida. It’s trying to make a family atmosphere and trying to get everybody to pull on the same rope and trying to get everybody to believe that we can do this.”

Kotsay’s won a World Series! The White Sox love a family atmosphere! Williams loves talking about pulling rope!
Most beneficial to his case, Millar didn’t break spring training with the Cubs … and look where they are now.
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Minor league roundup:

  • Indianapolis 8, Charlotte 5
    • Uneven outing for Chris Sale, who allowed a homer, loaded the bases on a single and two walks, then struck out the side.
    • Alejandro De Aza went 2-for-5 with a triple, two strikeouts and two RBI; Brent Morel was 2-for-4.
    • Tyler Flowers went 0-for-4, grounded into two double plays, struck out once and committed a throwing error. He did throw a runner out after a strikeout, at least.
  • West Tenn 9, Birmingham 4
    • Christian Marrero hit a solo shot, his fourth homer of the year and his only hit in four at-bats.
    • Justin Green singled, walked and struck out.
    • Eduardo Escobar was 1-for-4 with an RBI.
  • Winston-Salem 7, Kinston 2
    • Jon Gilmore went 2-for-4 with a double.
    • Jose Martinez went 1-for-3 with a sac fly.
    • Brandon Short wore the collar.
  • Asheville 8, Kannapolis 6
    • Brady Shoemaker singled twice, walked twice, drove in two and struck out once.
    • Kyle Colligan went 2-for-5; Miguel Gonzalez 1-for-5 with two RBI.
    • Tyler Saladino went 0-for-3 with two walks and a strikeout.
    • Nick Ciolli went 3-for-4 with a walk and a strikeout.
    • Juan Silverio earned the collar and a silver sombrero.
  • Danville 11, Bristol 9 (10 innings)
    • Screamin’ Kevin Moran was tagged with the loss in his second straight outing, allowing two runs (one earned) on two hits and two walks in an inning, striking out one.
    • Daniel Black was 1-for-6 with a strikeout and a throwing error.
    • Rangel Ravelo was 2-for-6.
  • Great Falls 6, Idaho Falls 4
    • Leighton Pangilinan homered twice and struck out twice.
    • Ross Wilson went 1-for-4 with a double.
    • Andy Wilkins went 1-for-3 with a double and a walk.
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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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onlysoxfaninboston

jim, i forget, but did danks and management agree to re-visit contract talks at the end of the season? danks was wise to not sign this past offseason, and i hope jerry realizes what we have in him and ponies up.

knoxfire30

Danks has been a rock, he might not be the ACE in terms of a top 5-8 pitcher in the league but he is an ACE in the terms that their are 30 number ones since their are 30 teams and he is probably in the 9-15 range of best pitchers in the league. DAVE CAMERON IS A MORON!!!!!!!
Juan Pierre 3 hits last night, oh oh oh oh, uh oh oh oh, uh oh my god.
After ranting about Hawk’s illustrious praise of mark kotsay hitting into bad luck, he actually hits into bad luck last night, giving hawk fuel for his fire for atleast another month 🙁 we need to trade for a lefty bat just so I dont have to hear it every day Kotsay is in the lineup.
Anyways great start to the series, time to pound on seattles lesser starters.

Shinons

2 RBIs for Pierre also…we have our big lefty bat!

bigfun

Determining whether or not Danks is elite probably hinges on how much one believes a pitcher can induce weak contact. xFIP thinks that Danks’ HR rate and BAA are lucky and regresses them, giving him an unimpressive score of 4.11. But FIP (which ignores batted ball types) and tERA (which integrates them rather than regressing to the norm like xFIP) both like Danks a lot.
I’m inclined to agree with Jim (as well as tERA) – In addition to getting a solid number of ground balls, Danks gets a double-digit percentage infield flies and gives up a below-average number of line drives.
But who is really better, Danks… or Floyd? Floyd actually has a better FIP, more strikeouts, and fewer walks. Danks wins in tERA and has been more consistent. They are tied in WAR with 3.4 each (better than Greinke, Kershaw, and Sabathia thus far).

knoxfire30

danks is more dependable, floyd has the more devastating lights out stuff to mow down a great hitting team

yinkadoubledare

Danks looks like the next-gen upgraded Mark Buehrle, another guy the sabermetric community serially underrates/underprojects and another guy who at least from an anecdotal/observational perspective seems to induce a lot of weak contact when his stuff is there.

bigfun

There’s definitely some similarities, especially in the pickoff moves and their repertoires. The biggest difference is that Buehrle’s better at limiting walks whereas Danks throws quite a bit harder and strikes out more hitters.

tdogg

Who’s better? Who cares?!!
Im just happy we have them both! 🙂

ricksch

In my book, Danks “arrived” when he showed up big in that 163rd game. Now he’s laying down a quality start almost every time out. His sped-up delivery has the effect of making him throw quick, early strikes and less pitches. He’s clearly been our most consistent pitcher this year.
As far as the “fanfare”, who knows? But that jawin’ Johnny clip-art you have is going to be feasting on a huge, long-term contract soon enough. If Danks ends up 16-9 or better, we’ve won the division.

ricksch

BTW — The crux of the situation with Hudson is that he was supposed to be replacing Garcia, not Peavy. There’s a lot more pressure on him with Freddy in the rotation. Guillen needs to juggle the rotation so that Garcia and Hudson aren’t back to back.

parkernutws05

agreed. Freddy is a nice #5 but with Hudson behind him, Feddy’s margin for error, got very small. They are talking of a 4 man rotation but not a fan given buerhle is not good in august and Freddy’s age.

knoxfire30

Asking price on Adam Dunn is Daniel Hudson, Tyler Flowers, Brent Morel, and Jordan Danks. Pretty steep, I would give up Morel and Danks in a heart beat but Hudson has to much value to the current 25 man roster and Flowers is tradable but makes resigning AJ a must.

knoxfire30

Miss-read the report, its Hudson plus 1 of those 3, if thats what it will take I think something is definitely going to get done. We can make a seperate deal for a middle of the road pitcher who can be as good as Hudson anyways. Time to fill our lineup with a stud lefty bat!!!

ricksch

The only things are:
1) I seriously doubt Dunn is going to be that good and will take time adjusting to AL pitching. We’ll only have him for eight weeks. I’d rather have Scott who knows the league (and the tough AL East where our playoff opponents are coming from) and believe he would produce more in the short time allotted — and for far less than what the Nats want for Dunn.
2) Hudson is a guy who could be a mainstay in the rotation for years to come. He won’t cost us anything next year, while Peavy and Buerhle bank $31m plus. We’ll need two new starters next year cause Freddy isn’t going to be fooling anyone with his junk for much longer. How are we gonna get them? Trades? We have nothing to trade. Free agents? What’s that gonna cost?
3) What are we going to give up for the MOR pitcher? The cupboard is practically bare now. The only guy left down there will be Jared Mitchell cause he’s hurt.
I’m sure you know all this and that, like myself, you’re desperate to see Kotsay and Jones out of the lineup. I’d trade ANY OTHER prospect besides Hudson, but a good young pitcher is too rare of a commodity to give away for a rental. Remember , we have NO ONE ELSE coming along in the Minors. Sale has just begun his Minor League career. Torres is a career minor leaguer. If it happens, I hope Dunn rakes, but it’s not a smart move. I hope KW knows this.

parkernutws05

I would take that deal in a heartbeat. Hudson is a nice player and probably dump Flowers, For a guy that was supposed to have a major league ready bat, he sure has not shown it in the minors. Danks stands to make a ton of money given what his age is and everone is looking for leftys and tend to overpay for them. Sox have been looking for that true number one for awhile and maybe they already have it.

bigfun

He has a solid .279/.393/.488 line in the minors, what exactly has he not shown? And who even said he was major league ready? I haven’t seen anything to suggest he would really be ready before 2011, do people just keep making this up?

ricksch

When they traded Vazquez for Flowers, I do remember Kenny saying Flowers would be ready very soon. Don’t remember his exact quote but the suggestion was that the kid’s very close. Two years later, his AAA stat line looks pretty good (though still with a boatload of Ks), but he’s still not ready and probably won’t be ready next year.
You seem to always emphasize having at least a decent farm system. I’m surprised you’re willing to trade Hudson for Dunn.
Hudson must have been prepared for the call-up this year, but he was supposed to be in for Freddy, not Peavy. It’s a huge difference, don’t you agree? Now this kid finds himself in the thick of a pennant race, with his turn coming after a guy who lasted less than 2 innings in his last start. And not only does Hudson have to pitch for the division title, every start he makes affects his trade potential. It’s no wonder Hudson looks tentative out there. I’d be willing to bet he settles in once the deadline passes. I just hope he’s still pitching for us.

bigfun

If someone finds a link or something I’d be happy to acknowledge they were right, I just don’t remember Williams or anyone else saying anything like that at the time.
I don’t like any of the Hudson for Dunn ideas that much, but the fact that Dunn would likely bring back two first-round picks if he walked after the year softens the blow.

ricksch

How many draft picks turn into rostered players and how many years does that usually take? We have vitually no one ready to step in from the minors at any position. More to the point, after Hudson, who are our top starter candidates? Sale and his 8 innings of AAA ball? Or career minor leaguer Torres? I want to see the Sox make the playoffs as much as anyone but strongly believe Dunn is the wrong guy and is WAY TOO costly on both ends.