In the past two days I've been in two heated discussions with seasoned White Sox fans about whether Aaron Rowand's breakout season is a fluke or not.
The thing is that he's been around for so long without receiving a lot of playing time that it's tough to remember my opinion on him from the very start. The oldest documented opinion I can find is in a post
giving season grades(by position) on Soxtalk. Here's what I had to say.
CF - Rowand/Harris - C- -- neither hit, though A-row was starting to when the trade happened. Rowand should get one more shot.
Nothing damning there, but not exactly a ringing endorsement. So at the very end of the season I was luke warm on Aaron.
In the off season I had a post
about what I thought he would do in the upcoming season (this year).
Rowand I think is going to break out... He was gapping doubles last year, in the second half, like I have never seen him before... and he almost finished with a higher Avg. than Carlos. If given the opportunity to play CF, I think AR will put up some decent numbers..
.278 18HR 74RBI
.278 AVG? Check.
74RBI? Well two out of three ain't bad. Plus, I think there's a couple of factors that have limited Aaron's RBI opportunities this season; #1) the loss of Frank and Maggie has something to do with the lack of RBI's for Rowand, and #2) the lack of a true leadoff hitter. Rowand has filled in admirably leading off, which is not exactly an RBI position in the line-up.
So I've been cautiously optimistic regarding Rowand for at least the past year. In fact, he's partially responsible for the creation of this blog. The first post
of any substance on this thing was, more or less, a cry for Aaron to get more playing time. Aaron had been benched, and was losing time in the outfield to Timo Perez and Willie Harris.
Aaron Rowand, who lost his job to Carl Everett last season, and to light hitting Willie Harris earlier this season. [He] plays a respectable centerfield, as evidenced by to run-saving plays in todays game. The "knock" on rowand has been his inability to hit RHP. In reality he doesn't do a bad job against RHP.
Rowand is currently batting .320 against RHP. So I guess that argument is out the window.
At the All-Star Break I took the three days to give Grades to all of the players in a Mid-Season Report Card
. Rowand received a B- on his first half. And I had this to say:
...[Rowand is] quite possibly the most underrated player on the Sox. After an unimpressive start, during which he lost his starting centerfield spot to Willie Harris, he has quietly put together a solid season. Rowand is the type of player that Ozzie should love. He plays hard every day. His defense is solidly above average, and even better while covering more of right field in the absence of Maggie in right field. The one weakness in Rowand's game that seems to get questioned is his ability to hit RHP. He is a career .255 hitter versus righties. This season he's hitting .261 against them. That's not that bad, especially when you compare it to some other ugly splits on our team; Frank vs. LHP (.200), Willie vs. LHP (.135), Crede vs. RHP (.225), Valentin vs. LHP (.194), etc.
The one area that I would like to see Aaron make a marked improvement in is hitting with RISP. So far this season he's hitting a woeful .171 in those situations. Over his career he has been a .286 hitter with RISP, so I expect him to get better in the second half. In the mean time, he looks like he has settled nicely into the #2 spot in the order.
Aaron is currently hitting .292 with runners in scoring position. (Notice a trend yet?)
Just a couple of weeks ago, in an entry entitled Two Faced
, I was again ragging on Aaron's ability to hit with RISP. I guess he's showed me.
So with after all of that. How about making my 74 RBI projection come through. Huh, Aaron?