Conor Gillaspie set to join list of leaders

DETROIT -- If the planets, suns and moons all align just right for the Chicago White Sox, there is the potential they could end the year with a Cy Young Award, a rookie of the year honor, an MVP and a batting title in one incredible haul of hardware.

The odds are certainly long, but they aren’t lottery-like, either.

Chris Sale is in the Cy Young mix, while Jose Abreu appears to have the rookie award in hand, while also taking aim at the MVP.

Meanwhile, the batting title gets a little tricky.

The White Sox don't have anybody among the batting leaders at the present time, but that could change in the next day or two. Conor Gillaspie entered Wednesday’s game at the Detroit Tigers with a .327 batting average and needing five at-bats Wednesday, or eight at-bats by the end of Thursday’s play, to qualify in the batting race.

Players need 3.1 at-bats for each of their team’s games played to qualify.

There has been little national acclaim for the season Gillaspie is having, possibly because he plays at third base, a position usually relied on to deliver power production. Gillaspie has just four home runs and didn’t hit his first until July 1, although he did have three in consecutive games July 8-10.

There is also the idea that on-base percentage and OPS are a better way to gauge a player’s offense, although a batting title remains a prestigious honor among the players.

"The numbers are great, but I would rather just do things the right way and whatever that ends up leading me to, it is what it is," Gillaspie said. "As far as a quiet season, anything is pretty quiet when you have a couple of guys on our team that are hitting the way they are hitting. That’s all relevant. It doesn’t change how much emphasis I put on trying to have quality at-bats. That’s what I’m going to keep doing until I’m done playing."

Gillaspie gives new White Sox hitting coach Todd Steverson a lot of the credit for taking him from a rookie prone to struggles last year to a hitter who has settled into his own in his second campaign.

"I’ve related well to a lot of things he’s said and a lot of things he’s told me that make sense to me," Gillaspie said.

If Gillaspie had qualified to be listed among the batting leaders before Wednesday’s game, he would have been tied for second with the Seattle Mariners' Robinson Cano. The Houston Astros' Jose Altuve led the American League with a .343 mark.

Yet even if his name does start to appear atop the batting list by the end of the week, Gillaspie won’t put too much thought into it.

"The problem with that is the more you place emphasis on that, the more you see yourself in whatever newspapers or leaderboards," he said. "For me, the more I look into that, the more disappointed it gets when you don’t do well.

"The biggest thing is to stay the course, focus on things you can control and at the end of the year, wherever that is, it would be a good feeling to know you made adjustments and learned over the course of a year. I’ve just been trying to control other factors that can cause you to have bad at-bats."