Not expected to be playoff-bound anyway, the Chicago White Sox are struggling even worse than anticipated, falling to a record of 7-12 after another costly loss last night. Want to know how bad it's gotten? Jeff Keppinger, a serviceable infielder with a career OBP of .332, is struggling with a batting average of .171. The crazy part: his OBP is LOWER than his average. With an OBP of .167, Keppinger managed to drag his OBP below his BA which seems impossible on the surface.
How did it happen? Keppinger has yet to draw a walk this year, but he does have a sacrifice fly. The sac fly is a "0 for 0" for batting average but is a "0 for 1" for on base percentage since it counts as a plate appearance. Without any walks or hit by pitches, the sac fly is enough to produce this statistical oddity.
One other statistical oddity: Keppinger's .171 average is 70 points HIGHER than another regular in Chicago's lineup, Adam Dunn. With multiple sub-.200 players in the lineup, the White Sox should be thankful that they managed their way to 7 wins already.
Wanted: full time third basemen. Despite some downright nasty lineups (Angels, Yankees, Blue Jays, etc.), the hot corner is slowly becoming a position of desperation for many teams as the depth of solid everyday third basemen is on the decline. Even big market teams willing to spend find themselves in a hole at third base, from Boston to Chicago (both teams) to New York among others. Oddly enough, it begins with a Kevin Youkilis triangle of terror.
Need proof? Currently A-Rod's replacement in New York, Youkilis is now ailing (the dreaded oblique) himself, and the White Sox still don't have a MLB-ready player to replace Youkilis whom they acquired midway through last season. Boston's answer to letting Youkilis go last year, Middlebrooks, hurt his wrist, causing plenty of anxiety for Boston fans because they have no viable replacement.
The third base conundrum doesn't end in the AL. The Cubs, allegedly rebuilding, are so weak at 3B that they are forced to once again start Ian Stewart, hitting a sad .183 with 5 HR over the span of two injury-filled seasons. Stewart is supposed to be in his prime (27 years old), so if that is the best 3B a major market team can put out there, how bad will it get at the hot corner in 2013? Is Omar Vizquel still playing? Seriously, is he? No? Why not? Mike Schmidt, how are your knees feeling? Is Matt Williams around?
Now that the Upton brothers are teammates and will be sharing an outfield in Atlanta, the question remains why Arizona had been so focused on trading Justin. Just 25, Justin Upton has plenty of potential: 108 HR and a career OPS of .832 despite some inconsistent years. For a team like the Diamondbacks who are trying to build with youth, he seemed like a good anchor.
If you think Arizona made the deal because they can't compete in the checkbook department with divisional teams like the Dodgers, then how do you explain the new deal they made with Martin Prado, giving him $40 million over four years despite being older and having less upside than Upton, who was guaranteed $38.5 million in the next three years? The DBacks also received some prospects (and Delgado might be major league ready), but there don't appear to be any future All-Stars in the deal - something they lost in trading Upton.
There must be another reason, and either the Braves will find out for themselves, or Arizona overreacted to something and lost out on an All-Star.