White Sox never overcame early struggles

Theme of 2015 was inability to generate runs

White Sox never overcame early struggles

NEW YORK -- Todd Steverson looks at the 2015 White Sox offense and understands that many of his players will come close to their average career numbers.

The White Sox hitting coach also understands that the team's lack of offense at the season's outset set a wrong tone that was ultimately not overcome.

"Overall, as an offense, we got better, but we cost ourselves quite a few ballgames in the beginning by not scoring," Steverson said. "Not sure if we really weren't hitting. We just weren't scoring. The name of the game is scoring runs and we weren't scoring runs.

"Our pitching was doing its job, and I know the offense really wanted to latch on with the pitching. It just wasn't happening."

On paper, this offense looked to be a fairly well-balanced, potent group. It had a talented leadoff man in Adam Eaton, a strong No. 2 hitter in Melky Cabrera and what shaped up as a powerful middle of the order through Jose Abreu, Adam LaRoche and Avisail Garcia. The team was bringing along a young player at second in Micah Johnson, and then Carlos Sanchez in May, but the veteran presences could offset any growing pains.

Many of those veterans struggled as much as the youngsters, with the White Sox scoring just 64 runs during an 8-11 April. That total ranked last in the American League and just one ahead of the Phillies. The White Sox also hit just 12 homers in April, tied with the Twins for baseball's lowest total, and slugged .241.

"We probably should have hit for a little more power, in my opinion, and that's runs there when you hit for more slug. Our slug didn't really get there," Steverson said. "It's kind of like we were bringing along a couple of younger players and you try to jell as fast as you can. To come out like we came out at the beginning, we probably cost ourselves a little bit.

"You go out and you go, 'OK, we got this guy, that guy, OK.' If they are doing their thing, we are bringing along a couple of young guys, Micah, Sanchez, and for guys that have had history to struggle too at that point, it just kind of added to the development of some of our younger players. That mix right there, at that point, it was kind of bad brew."

Eaton has hit a robust .330 during the season's second half, while scoring 48 runs. Cabrera has 32 extra-base hits and 21 doubles during that time frame, highlighting Steverson's examples of players overcoming early issues.

LaRoche never came close to finding his feel at the plate, while Garcia continues to develop in the lineup. Even with the overall struggles, Steverson contends the White Sox have good hitters.

"There's just times where we let off the gas pedal a little too much and that's not for lack of want or anything like that. It's just baseball," Steverson said. "They say you can't win it, you can lose it kind of thing. We just needed to be better, and scratch across a few more runs when our pitching was doing their job like that."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.