While Brent Lillibridge has just 77 plate appearances in 2011, that he's swinging at a lower pecentage of pitches is an encouraging sign.
It'd be way too easy to scream "SMALL SAMPLE SIZE" at Brent Lillibridge's statistics this season and dismiss them as a fluke. Yes, a .662 slugging percentage probably isn't sustainable given Lillibridge isn't Jose Bautista or Matt Joyce. But there's one stat that can be considered reliable with Lillibridge's sample size, and that's swing percentage.
And it's encouraging.
In sample sizes reliable enough for the stat, Lillibridge swung at 56.6, 44.8 and 48.1 percent of pitches in each of the last three seasons at the MLB level. In 2011, Lillibridge is swinging at 43.4 percent of pitches he sees, a nice decrease that tells us he's being more selective.
He's still chasing bad pitches, but in the strike zone, Lillibridge has done a great job picking his pitches. This strategy has allowed him to sit back and wait for a pitch he can handle, which has led to him crushing the ball on a fairly regular basis.
As the sample size gets bigger, sure, Lillibridge will probably regress. That's the reasonable expectation—I mean, for a guy who topped out with a .522 slugging percentage his first year of pro ball in 2006, .662 is a little ridiculous.
I'd like to see the White Sox get Lillibridge in the lineup more, subbing for pretty much any player not named A.J. Pierzynski who struggles for a bit. Right now, that's Alex Rios and Adam Dunn. The idea of a DH platoon with Lillibridge facing lefties and Dunn facing righties is enough to explode our collective heads as we still try to wrap our minds around the fact Lillibridge has more home runs than Dunn, but at this point, it'd be beneficial to the Sox.
But I'll defer to Ozzie Guillen on this one. I'm sure he wants to get Lillibridge in the lineup, but at the same time, maybe he's picking his spots with the 27-year-old. If that's the case, and it means we keep getting this insanely-entertaining output from the 'Bridge, then by all means should Ozzie keep protecting him.