Tampa Bay staff should test White Sox’s newfound contact abilities

It’s hard to establish trends after six games, especially when they’re the only six games we have to work with, and the lineup quality keeps fluctuating due to one suspension and multiple injuries.

That said, one of the White Sox’s most persistent features through the first two series should be put to the test this weekend, when their lineup’s low strikeout rate goes up against the staff that piles them up, and rather indiscriminately.

The White Sox came into this game with baseball’s fifth-best strikeout rate at 17.4 percent. To show how precious and fickle these small samples are, the White Sox had the best K rate in the league before Thursday’s game (15.6 percent), during which Andrés Muñoz and the fastest fastball the White Sox have seen outside of Aroldis Chapman struck out the side.

We can call it an encouraging start if nothing else, because the reduction in strikeout rate from 2021 only has one team topping it at the moment:

White Sox22.817.45.4

But we could have a better idea of whether the increase in contact is a feature of the White Sox or the pitching staffs they’ve faced after the weekend, because the Tampa Bay Rays come rolling in with the second-best strikeout rate in baseball …

  1. Mets, 28.9
  2. Rays, 28.8
  3. Giants, 27.9
  4. Padres, 27.1
    White Sox, 27.1

… and it’s because they get whiffs both inside and outside the zone. They have baseball’s lowest overall contact rate at 68.5 percent, and no other team is below 70 percent.

But the Rays have small sample size concerns of their own. They opened their season against the Orioles and Athletics, neither of whom have designs on making tons of contact this season, so they might be seizing a stat-padding opportunity of their own.

Then again, the Rays might’ve been able to pad their stats early by facing the Orioles and Athletics, neither of whom have designs on making tons of contact this season.

Conversely, the White Sox come into this weekend with baseball’s highest contact rate at 80.8 percent, which is a product of both conscious additions and gradual internal improvements. They didn’t look intimidated by last year’s Cy Young winner in Robbie Ray, and while Logan Gilbert pushed White Sox righties around by commanding both sides of the plate, he only struck out four over five innings himself. That’s when Muñoz came in and showed everybody what overpowering truly looks like.

That said, the Rays have bullpen arms of their own. If the White Sox were further wrestled down to average by a deep Tampa Bay pitching staff, nobody should be surprised by regression this early. If they somehow get through the weekend running their streak of single-digit strikeout games to nine, we’ll have a slightly better idea of how sticky this improvement might be.

Of course, if the lineup is still missing Josh Harrison and Eloy Jiménez on top of A.J. Pollock’s absence there may be only so much to glean one way or another. This is why most people try not to extrapolate an entire season off the first 5 percent of games, as tempting as it may be. This is also why I’m avoiding detailing Leury García’s season-opening confidence crisis for a second consecutive season.

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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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Who is this Munoz guy? He was virtually unhittable- 102/103 MPH fastball and a nasty slider. He’s got closer written all over him.


One of the more impressive innings I have seen in a long time, mercy


He’s young (23) and has struggled with command somewhat, like most guys with triple-digit FBs. This was the best command I’ve seen from him yet in an outing, he might well be a top-tier reliever if he keeps up work like that.


I sure would like to see the game, but contrary to what it says on the White Sox site, it won’t let me sign up for an apple ID (that I don’t want) without a credit card (which they can’t have).


I usually use an empty visa gift card when a CC is required for a free promotion. Works well.


Really glad we avoided Suzuki and his .368/.480/.895 slash. Phew, that was close.


He looks good, but maybe a little early for sarcastic regret?



Not signing Suzuki was stupid…every scouting report projected as above league average in RF, he fit a need, is a great age for this team, and cost only money…they could have not picked up Kimbrel’s option and signed Suzuki instead but the Sox do nothing if not by half measures.

Sarcasm seems warranted.


They said the same about Fukudome. And he started hot too. Let’s see how he does after the league adjusts to him.


The Fukudome from his first few years in MLB would be more than welcome in RF for this squad.


Suzuki is younger than Fukudome was. And Fukudome had a slightly down year at the plate before he signed. Suzuki is a better bet.


Last edited 11 months ago by jorgefabregas

Just because we might’ve wanted him doesn’t mean the player wanted to come here. Especially a Japanese player when the Sox haven’t had any real inroads there in over a decade.


Hiring a translator is not hard. And he literally signed in Chicago, just not with the Sox. If the Sox had just made an effort they probably could have signed him.

Greg Nix

Fun fact: Kaz Matsui had a 1.000+ OPS his first 10 games in the majors.


Hadn’t thought about him in a long time so I took a look at his stats. Crazy how much of a power hitter he was in Japan.


O/T but. Well I haven’t posted here much for a long while but I still lurk and read all the fantastic analysis and content almost every day.
I wanted to say that while I was out for a lunch time errand earlier in my car I had 670 the score on with Laurence Holmes and suddenly kaboom he announces Sox Machine on the show weekly and lo and behold Josh pops up with his very own intro too and gave a very entertaining discussion of the Sox with Laurence. I just want to say congratulations to Josh and Jim and Soxmachine for that partnership with the Score and Laurence Holmes which is going to be great to listen to in addition to everything else all you have been doing. Continue the great work!


And so the Empire begins

Trooper Galactus

I just imagine Jim living in a spheroid home without railings, cackling on an uncomfortable office chair as he records future pods.


Buxton just left the game with a knee injury. The guy can’t catch a break.


It’s sad. As a baseball fan, I want high ceiling players to have a shot at reaching those ceilings.


He might actually be more talented than Robert. It would be fun to see what he could do in a full and healthy season.


I think those two have relegated Trout to the 3rd best center fielder in the AL now.


As talented as Robert/Buxton are, neither has posted a full season with a WAR over 5 yet. Trout has not posted one below 6.9 the past 8 years he has been healthy. I think a bit premature to put them both ahead of Trout.

I’d take bets Trout outproduces at least one if not both of them, and that’s not dissing either. 3 time MVP, 4 time runner up. Career OPS over 1. Pretty good player.

Last edited 11 months ago by jhomeslice
As Cirensica

Health is a talent. An important one. So Robert has the edge in my opinion.


I agree. Shorter track record, but Robert has had some injury issues in his career. At this point, though, Buxton has to be described as fragile.

Trooper Galactus

I can’t wait for the article detailing how the biggest White Sox free agent position player signing in the offseason was a utility player on the wrong side of 30 coming off a career year who inked a three-year deal that instantly went to shit and it’s somehow not about Jeff Keppinger.

Last edited 11 months ago by Trooper Galactus