With injuries to their two best players, Frank Thomas and Magglio Ordonez, it's not suprising that the White Sox have fallen off the pace in the AL Cebtral. What is suprising is that in their absence Aaron Rowand has emerged as the team's best hitter.
After his second two homer game in the last week, Rowand is now hitting .309 with 27 doubles, 18 homers, a .358 OBP and .565 slugging %.
How did this happen? How did Aaron Rowand go from 4th outfielder on the White Sox to arguably the top all-around ball player in the AL Central? Consider that:
Rowand's .565 slugging % is 7th best in the AL.
He has stolen 13 bases while only being caught twice.
He has the best zone rating among all AL centerfielders.
His only weakness this year has been his lack of plate discipline as he only has 20 walks and a .358 OBP. That's certainly not an awful on base percentage, but it is the only area preventing him from becoming one of the top hitters in the game.
He actually started out slow this year and was being platooned with Willie Harris in center until he turned things around in June. His ave/obp/slug splits by month are:
And for those of you who think he might only be taking advantage of hitter friendly Cellular field, his road numbers are better than his home numbers:
The Chicago papers have finally noticed the great season that Rowand is having and the Trib just featured him in a front page article. It should only be a matter of time before the national media begins to take notice.
I'm not completely sold that we can expect Rowand to put up these numbers on a yearly basis. But he's only 26 and this might be the first of many special seasons Rowand has on the south side.
UPDATE: The Cheat's Chisox Blog beat me to the punch and wrote about Rowand the other day. However, I disagree with the Cheat's criticism of Rowand's hitting with men in scoring position which I don't think is anythong more than luck. It's interesting to look back on but does little to predict future performance.