Two weeks ago, I polled the Sox Machine community to see whether there was a consensus for which player would end up leading the White Sox in homers, because nobody on the White Sox really seemed to want the title.
Even though there was little separation at the top, the results basically went chalk.
- Andrew Vaughn: 15 homers (52.5%)
- José Abreu: 14 homers (27.7%)
- Gavin Sheets: 12 homers (15.4%)
Luis Robert: 12 homers (2.0%)
- AJ Pollock: 10 homers (0.5%)
- Eloy Jiménez: 8 homers (2.0%)
Since then, Abreu ended a career-long homerless drought to briefly tie Vaughn, only to see Vaughn untie it with one of five White Sox homers in Cleveland on Thursday for his only homer of the fortnight, with Gavin Sheets joining him as well. Meanwhile, Eloy Jiménez is now tied for third as he tries to make a hard charge down the stretch.
- Andrew Vaughn: 16 homers
- José Abreu: 15 homers
- Gavin Sheets: 13 homers
Eloy Jiménez: 13 homers
- Luis Robert: 12 homers
Gavin Sheets: 12 homers
- AJ Pollock: 11 homers
So here’s another poll to see whether sentiment has shifted.[yop_poll id=”9005″]
For now, at least. The absurdity of Tony La Russa’s absence creates the environment for an experiment that tests how well the White Sox perform against La Russa’s proximity to the proceedings.
If there’s any solace, the White Sox aren’t the only team in the AL Central that has a difficult time parting with underachieving personnel. In Kansas City, it seems as though none of their pitching development infrastructure is worth keeping.
In Kansas City, much of the ire has been directed at pitching coach Cal Eldred, who, aside from the shortened 2020 season, has not had a pitching staff finish better than 11th in the American League in ERA since his 2018 hiring. The Royals will make decisions on their major-league staff this winter, but a survey of rival executives, coaches, player development coordinators, scouts and former Royals pitchers reveals a fuller picture of the club’s struggles to develop pitching — particularly homegrown starters. Rival executives wonder about the speed at which prospects reached the majors. Scouts question pitch usage and the implementation of data. Former pitchers lament development methods that felt too rigid.
At 31, Trayce Thompson is finally having a season that bests the production from his debut season with the White Sox back in 2015, when he was good enough to be traded for Todd Frazier. It’s cool to see such a rebound, because the back injury that derailed his career after the trade spoiled what was a development success story for the White Sox farm system.
If Major League Baseball is requiring players to stand on the infield dirt, then it needs to be on the lookout for shenanigans from the Roger Bossards of the baseball world. There is a rule on the books, but there’s been no real need to enforce it before now.
It will allow up to a foot of leeway in either direction, to account for what one source described as groundskeeping “error.” So it’s still possible the back edge of the dirt in various parks could extend anywhere from 94 to 96 feet from the center of the mound.
“Interesting,” one AL executive observed, when we updated him on that leeway. “If they’re allowing for error, why do I think that everyone is going to err on the larger side?”
As long as Shohei Ohtani stayed healthy and continued producing at the plate and mound, I’d wondered how long it would take for MVP voters to take him for granted, but Aaron Judge is having the kind of season that would warrant consideration even if you placed him on a non-contender. He leads the AL home run race by 22, which is a staggering achievement in its own right.