It was looking like a bit of slow day on Wednesday, with only 11 games on the slate, but then Joc Pederson continued his tear in the late game. In his final at-bat on Sunday, his three at-bats on Monday and his three on Wednesday (he didn't play Tuesday), Pederson did this: home run, home run, double, home run, home run, walk, home run. Wow! He's the first player with extra-base hits in six consecutive at-bats since Josh Hamilton in 2012 (who also had five home runs in his stretch). So, yeah, that put an exclamation point on the day. So did Ketel Marte's grand slam in the seventh inning that gave the Diamondbacks a 4-1 win over the Padres -- their ninth win in 10 games.
Here's something else that stood out to me: Daniel Palka, playing right field for the White Sox, went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in an 8-6 loss to the Indians. He is batting .019 -- 1-for-53 on the season. Since 1901, the lowest batting average for a non-pitcher with at least 50 at-bats belongs to Lyn Lary, with an .056 mark in 1940 (3-for-54). The remarkable thing is that Palka could actually be 0-for-54:
Not to pick on a guy when he's down, but Daniel Palka is now 1-for-53 (.019). His one hit came against the Royals on April 17 and it was a 63-mph "groundball." Actually, it was a little looper right to shortstop, except a shift was on: pic.twitter.com/RnZBRUOdfP— David Schoenfield (@dschoenfield) September 5, 2019
Anyway, the reason I noticed Palka's problems was that in researching something else earlier in the day, I came upon the season numbers for White Sox right fielders. If you're a White Sox fan, you should probably go read something else, like Sam Miller's profile on Christian Yelich from the Body Issue. It's a much better story with some nice photos.
White Sox right fielders, in this season of the home run, are hitting .214 with ... three home runs. THREE! From a position normally associated with power. It feels impossible. It's really one of the most amazing stats of the year: .214/.273/.273, 3 HRs, 39 runs, 34 RBIs. Those are bad numbers for a middle infielder in the 1970s and unforgivable for right field in 2019. Every other team has at least 13 home runs from its right fielders. The last team to get that few home runs from right field was the 1983 Brewers, who had just two home runs (both from Charlie Moore, but at least he had a .722 OPS in 151 games; the White Sox have a .546 OPS from right field).
The collective numbers of this sad group:
Ryan Cordell: 161 PAs, .204/.264/.272, 2 HRs
Leury Garcia: 121 PAs, .259/.283/.336, 0 HR
Jon Jay: 120 PAs, .274/.328/.321, 0 HR
Charlie Tilson: 94 PAs, .198/.266/.267, 1 HR
Daniel Palka: 48 PAs, .000/.146/.000, 0 HR
Ryan Goins: 6 PAs, .200/.333/.200, 0 HR
Remember, the White Sox non-tendered Avisail Garcia because ... umm, they were going to sign Bryce Harper? At least they've played good defense, though, right? Nope. White Sox right fielders have minus-14 defensive runs saved, second-worst in the majors.
Now that we've found the worst right field of 2019, let's do every position! Fun for all!
The totals: .193/.273/.322, 11 HRs, 56 runs, 54 RBIs
Congrats, White Sox fans! (Hey, I told you to read up on Yelich.) The AL average for DH is .250/.330/.461 with 26 home runs, 78 runs and 75 RBIs. The White Sox are last in ... well, every category except strikeouts. Their DHs actually strike out less than average. Amazingly, these numbers are propped up only because Jose Abreu has batted 135 times here and hit .283/.348/.442. Yonder Alonso was the major culprit, batting .160 in 166 plate appearances. Next winter I suspect the White Sox will stay away from signing Manny Machado's friends and relatives.
The totals: .166/.221/.298, 17 HRs, 49 runs, 45 RBIs
This is a close call between the Rangers and Tigers, as Rangers catchers are hitting .187/.241/.297 with just nine home runs, and they play in a hitters' park, but ... man, .166? Are you kidding me? Did the Tigers have a plan at catcher? Not really. Why have a plan when you're not even trying to win? I guess Grayson Greiner was supposed to be the starter, but he hit .177 in 44 games. John Hicks has started the most games but has hit .197 when catching. Defensive stalwart Jake Rogers was called up, and he has hit .111 in 81 at-bats. Things got so bad that 36-year-old veteran Bobby Wilson, fresh off a .178 season with the Twins, entered the scene in June, hit .091 in 15 games and was then placed into a witness protection program.
The totals: .207/.271/.344, 16 HRs, 64 runs, 58 RBIs
Why do I get the feeling that every position on this list could come from the AL Central? Come on, AL Central, do better. The main culprit here: Ryan O'Hearn, who has hit .179 in 303 plate appearances, proving that his fluky September last year was, indeed, a fluke.
2B: Detroit Tigers
The totals: .229/.271/.360, 9 HRs, 52 runs, 50 RBIs
Look, I could have gone with the Marlins here. I could have gone with the White Sox, who rank last at second base in home runs (5), runs (43) and RBIs (40). That's mostly Yolmer Sanchez, who at least is a plus defender. I give the slight edge to the Tigers, who have used seven second basemen, including five who have started at least 19 games. One of those was Gordon Beckham, and no offense to Beckham, who keeps kicking around and earning a living playing baseball, but the last year he was good was 2009 -- his rookie season. Has anybody else milked 10 seasons after one good rookie campaign? Maybe that's a little harsh. He was usable in 2011 and 2013, but since 2014, he has accumulated nearly 1,300 plate appearances and minus-0.2 WAR. The point is: The Tigers gave him 31 starts at second base. It's almost like they didn't even care.
3B: Detroit Tigers
The totals: .230/.289/.366, 13 HRs, 52 runs, 51 RBIs
I swear, I'm not purposefully picking on the AL Central. This was a two-horse race, but not exactly Affirmed versus Alydar (go look it up on YouTube, kids). The Angels were close, but the Tigers were slightly worse in wOBA, runs and RBIs, and they strike out a lot. Main culprits: Jeimer Candelario and Dawel Lugo. I'm thinking the Tigers might be a ways away from contention.
The totals: .235/.294/.354, 9 HRs, 36 runs, 34 RBIs
We could have picked the Royals, who rank second-to-last in wOBA. We could have picked the Brewers, who rank last. Those are interesting candidates because Adalberto Mondesi was actually OK until he got hurt (his replacements struggled), and the Brewers have Orlando Arcia, who at least is considered a defensive whiz (though the metrics suggest he's more average). Anyway, the Orioles don't quite have the worst OPS, but they are way at the bottom in runs and RBIs and sitting at minus-10 DRS. Richie Martin hit .193 in starting 81 games, and Jonathan Villar has hit much better in his 58 starts there (.279/.343/.430). At least they've used only two shortstops!
LF: Miami Marlins
The totals: .200/.263/.344, 13 HRs, 59 runs, 56 RBIs
CF: Kansas City Royals
The totals: .215/.278/.288, 3 HRs, 32 runs, 30 RBIs
This was mostly Billy Hamilton, before the Royals waived him and the Braves picked him up, but Bubba Starling, Chris Owings and Brett Phillips have made some ill-fated contributions (or lack of contributions) here as well. Whit Merrifield's .749 OPS in 64 PAs as a center fielder hasn't helped enough. Maybe this selection is unfair because at least this group has played good defense, with plus-14 DRS. I've focused on offense here. According to Baseball-Reference, the Rockies (minus-3.0 wins above average) and Marlins (minus-3.4 wins above average) have been the worst all-around in center field. So if you want to go with the Marlins? Good with me. Because we need to end this with something good.