By Tyler Ruby on July 5, 2014
The Chicago White Sox currently sit nine games back of the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central, and barring an unforeseen comeback or collapse, it looks like another season where the White Sox miss the playoffs. It's not all bad though. Here are the five biggest surprises of Chicago's first half of the season.
We're going to start this list off on a bad note. One of the reasons why the White Sox are struggling is because of their pitching, specifically their bullpen. Their closer, Ronald Belisario, has eight saves this year with a 5.49 ERA. Scott Downs has an ERA of over six. Their most effective pitcher out of the bullpen is Matt Lindstrom, and he landed on the DL last week.
How can you not like a guy who hits with no batting gloves? He's a left-handed hitting third baseman, and although the power numbers aren't there, he still leads the team in batting average at .311. His success has been a pleasant surprise for the White Sox, and he provides a real threat toward the bottom half of the lineup.
Chris Sale pitching extremely well isn't exactly a surprise, so why is he on here? Well, earlier in the year he missed a fair amount of time due to strained flexor muscle in his pitching elbow. Tommy John surgery looked like a legitimate possibility for a bit, but since his return, he has been nearly unhittable. He's 8-1 with a 2.16 ERA. His WHIP is 0.87, which is absurd. He certainly has a case to start the All-Star Game.
The White Sox shortstop is in the midst of his best season since his rookie year in 2008. His average sits at .293, and he leads the team in hits with 98. He has also shored up his defense up the middle. He has nine errors on the year, but he is still on pace to have a lower rate than 2013.
We all knew that Jose Abreu was a good player, and we all knew he could hit. But I don't think anyone expected him to hit a league-leading 27 homeruns in the first half of his major league career. He isn't just a power hitter, as his batting average sits at .280. That combination has allowed Robin Ventura to fill comfortable enough to put him in the No. 3 spot in lineup.
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