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Streaking/Slumping: Sale was mystifying

7/13/2012
Chris Sale was dominant in the first half while Phil Humber has struggled since his April perfect game. US Presswire/Getty Images

The Chicago White Sox, who open the second half on Friday against the Kansas City Royals, got more good performances than bad in the season’s first 85 games. Here’s a look at two of the best and two of the worst:

STREAKING

1. Paul Konerko, 1B: OK, I get it, Konerko is only third in home runs and fifth in RBIs on his own team, but numbers alone can’t keep him off this list. Konerko led the AL in batting average for much of the first half and hit the break at .329 with 14 home runs and 42 RBIs. The ability to make the routine and the difficult play on defense is only minimized by his lack of range to the right. Konerko is the heart and soul of the surprising White Sox’s first-half surge.

2. Chris Sale, SP: Sale was the most dominant starting pitcher in the AL in the first half. Hitters have been mystified by Sale’s ability to change speeds on his fastball while having pinpoint control on all of his pitches (he has just 25 walks). Once again the White Sox showed they can handle young starters by using them in the bullpen one season before making them rotation pitchers. Ten wins and a league-low 2.19 ERA is testament to the tenacious way Sale goes about his business. After a 12-day rest, Sale will start on Sunday in Kansas City.

SLUMPING

1. Brent Morel/Orlando Hudson, 3B: Third base was a trainwreck until the Sox picked up Kevin Youkilis in what appears to be the trade of the year so far in baseball. Hudson and Morel combined to hit .176 with 1 home run and 16 RBIs, and they combined for a .470 OPS. Morel was hurting from spring training on with a bad back. Hudson had never played third base and looked like it most of the time. No credit here for a good effort. That kind of stuff is for rookie ball.

2. Philip Humber, SP: A strained elbow saved Humber from being dropped from the rotation. Incredibly, he pitched the 22nd perfect game in major league history in April and still made this list. Humber gave up 12 home runs in 12 starts The Sox are hoping he will come back strong in the second half when he is fully rehabbed from a right elbow strain. He was 3-4 with a 6.01 ERA before going on the DL.