The White Sox came into the 2011 season with high expectations. They added several key free agents and re-signed two of their own free agents, Paul Konerko and AJ Pierzynski, who they thought would go elsewhere. We have completed the first third of the season and early June is always a good indicator of where your team stands. Here are the good and bad of what has been an up-and-down 2011 campaign for the Sox.
1) Paul Konerko
After a huge 2010 season many wondered what to expect from the Konerko in the 2011 season. So far so good. The first baseman is leading the club in most offensive categories including his 12 home runs and 44 RBI's along with a .310 batting average.
2) Brent Lillibridge
What a surprise Lillibridge has been this season. Through the first two months of the season it can be argued that he has been the White Sox MVP. He has played every position in the outfield and some infield as well. In the 34 games he has played he has six home runs, which is more than Adam Dunn and Alex Rios, and five stolen bases. His outfield defense has been fantastic as well.
3) Alexei Ramirez
Ramirez has been as hot as anyone the past several weeks. His batting average is.297 and he has knocked in 31 runs to date. His defense at shortstop has been solid as well. Starlin Castro of the Cubs has been getting a lot of love both locally and nationally and in a few years he may be the next Hanley Ramirez . As of today, I'm not sure Castro is even the best shortstop in Chicago.
4) Sergio Santos
In only his second year pitching in the majors, Santos has not lost a beat from his great 2010 season. After several blown saves by the White Sox bullpen early in the season, Santos was given the job and has been nearly flawless. In ten save chances he has converted all but one. Santos also has a spectacular ERA of just 1.35.
5) Philip Humber
If it wasn't for the emergence of Brent Lillibridge, the story of the season would be Philip Humber. Playing for his fourth team since 2006, Humber seems to have found his home. He is 4-3 this season with a 3.06 ERA and 0.98 WHIP. The righty has been the Sox most consistent starter all season.
1) Adam Dunn
History shows Adam Dunn should hit 40 Homers, Drive in 100 Runs, Strikeout about 160 times, and walk about a 100 times. As of Friday he is only doing one of those four. The White Sox prize off season free agent so far has Sox fans wondering why they got rid of Mark Kotsay. Dunn only has five homeruns to go with his .180 batting average. He has also struck out 71 times already. The Sox will need Adam Dunn to become Adam Dunn if they have any aspirations of competing for a playoff spot.
2) Alex Rios
Alex Rios had a great bounce back year in 2010. After a below average 2009, Rios hit 21 home runs and stole 34 bases. For a while it looked like Rios might be a member of the 30-30 club. This season it appears he won't make the 15-15 club. So far Rios only has four homers and four steals to go with his .201 average. His range in center field is probably the only thing keeping him in the lineup.
3) John Danks
John Danks has always been a key to the White Sox rotation. Quality left handed pitchers are tough to find and Danks has been solid since he joined the Sox. This season he seems to be taking a step backwards. Here we are in early June and Danks still is winless on the season. I know a pitcher's record doesn't always indicate the whole story, but after his last outing in Toronto one needs to start wondering if his confidence is beginning to fade.
4) Matt Thornton
Matt Thornton has been one of the most reliable set up men in baseball the past few seasons. When Thornton got the ball you knew it would be a smooth transition to the closer. The Matt Thornton of 2011 has been anything but reliable. Named the closer in spring training, Thornton was only two of six in save chances before he lost the job to Sergio Santos. He has also walked 11 and given up 25 hits in just 17.2 innings of work.
The White Sox are 27-31 so far this season and trail the Indians by eight games. If they want to get back in the race the players listed as good will have to stay in that column and those listed as bad will need to rebound or it's going to be a long summer on the South side.