Originally posted on Grab Some Bench  |  Last updated 5/14/13
Slow starts to the season are nothing new for the White Sox. The Palehose have played sub-.500 baseball each year since 2008 through 35 games (which is where we are at right now), which has resulted in only one playoff appearance in that time frame. The starts individual players have had tell the story, as since the turn of the century, there have been 21 different instances where a player has hit either below .200 or recorded an OPS below .550 through 35 games. In nine of those, the player was below in both categories. This season, we have two of our Palehose gracing us with such badness: Adam Dunn and Jeff Keppinger. To take a look at just how bad they have done, here’s a look at the bottom ten in each stat category in the “slash line” (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage/OPS) since 2000 through 35 games: AVG through 35 games (min. 20 starts) 2001 Royce Clayton- .110 2013 Adam Dunn- .137 2011 Adam Dunn- .167 2006 Brian Anderson- .172 2006 Juan Uribe- .178 2012 Brent Morel- .182 2013 Tyler Flowers- .185 2013 Jeff Keppinger- .187 2005 Jermaine Dye- .190 2008 Juan Uribe- .192 OBP 1. 2001 Royce Clayton- .165 2. 2013 Jeff Keppinger- .184 3. 2012 Alexei Ramirez- .216 4. 2006 Juan Uribe- .220 5. 2012 Brent Morel- .221 6. 2012 Dayan Viciedo- .226 7. 2005 Jermaine Dye- .230 8. 2013 Adam Dunn- .230 9. 2008 Juan Uribe- .238 10. 2011 AJ Pierzynski- .252 SLG 1. 2001 Royce Clayton- .159 2. 2012 Brent Morel- .202 3. 2013 Jeff Keppinger- .203 4. 2010 Gordon Beckham- .252 4. 2008 Orlando Cabrera- .252 6. 2012 Alexei Ramirez- .257 7. 2009 Alexei Ramirez- .273 8. 2011 AJ Pierzynski- .274 9. 2010 AJ Pierzynski- .292 10. 2008 Nick Swisher- .298 OPS 2001 Royce Clayton- .323 2013 Jeff Keppinger- .387 2012 Brent Morel- .423 2012 Alexei Ramirez- .473 2011 AJ Pierzynski- .526 2009 Alexei Ramirez- .527 2012 Dayan Viciedo- .530 2008 Orlando Cabrera- .534 2013 Adam Dunn- .543 2010 AJ Pierzynski, 2006 Juan Uribe, and 2007 Joe Crede- .547 Just from looking at those numbers, it’s pretty safe to say that the 2013 starts of Adam Dunn and Jeff Keppinger are indeed historically bad from a White Sox standpoint. In fact, if it wasn’t for our dear friend Royce Clayton in 2001, one could debate that the starts of Dunn and Keppinger could be the absolute worst by a Sox hitter in the past 13 seasons. Maybe the two of them should call Royce up and buy him dinner, as we know the two of them are getting paid enough to do so ... While all of the numbers above for all the individuals look brutal, there are more than enough examples of those guys coming out of it. In fact, aside from Brent Morel last season, all of the members in the bottom 10 of OPS went on to have at least semi-productive seasons (even Royce Clayton ended up hitting .263 with an OPS of .708). Heck, even Paul Konerko and Jermaine Dye hit below the Mendoza line through the first 35 games in 2005, and we all know how that turned out. However, the million dollar question (or multi-million in the cases of Dunn and Keppinger) cannot be answered by looking at the track records of others, but can it be by looking at the track records of their own? We all know what happened the last and only time Dunn ever started this slow (take a look, he never came even close to starting this slow in Cincinatti, Arizona, or Washington), so I’m not sure how this start by Dunn can spring optimism with anybody. Keppinger, on the other hand, never has had a slow start in the four years he was a starter to begin the season, so we don’t really have a read on how he will respond to this. Also, there’s something almost every member on the above lists were able to do that Dunn and Keppinger haven’t done this season: defend. While some guys mentioned above weren’t world beaters in the field, there isn’t one guy that was as incompetent as Dunn and Keppinger are at defense in 2013. So, how long to the White Sox wait for these two to produce?  Well, just from Robin Ventura’s recent actions (calling a team meeting and dropping Keppinger to the bottom of the lineup), it appears that his patience is already wearing thin. Maybe he’s aware of how the past few years have gone for this ball club, as it’s clear that slow offensive starts have led to poor records to start the season, and the Sox haven’t been a playoff team since 2008 largely because of it.
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