Finally A White Sox Check-In

All of the stats in this post came from Fangraphs.

I haven’t written any sort of thoughts on the 2015 White Sox. They have been incredibly hard to watch and not playing well. But it’s time to did into some of the numbers.

Offense

The White Sox are 30th in runs scored1. The White Sox are 28th in SB, 29th in walk percentage, 29th in ISO, 29th in wOBA, 30th in baserunning runs above average (which is basically a measure of how well a team runs the bases) and 39th in offensive runs above average which also includes baserunners.

Tyler Flowers and Geovany Soto have somewhat split time at catcher, they are 25th and 23rd respectively in wOBA amongst ML catchers with at least 100 PA. Both have been slightly positive WAR players. Flowers has always been a decent defensive catcher, but he has been lousy this year. His offense has somehow been worse than his career marks. Not much was expected here, but these guys have been really bad.

Jose Abreu was a rockstar last season, but his numbers are down. There was a fear that pitchers would figure him out, but his strikeout rate is slightly down. Unfortunately his walk rate is way down, as are most of his offensive stats. He is 16th amongst ML 1B in WAR. He would be rated higher if not his really bad defense. Speaking of which, Adam LaRoche has not delivered the defensive prowess he was supposed to possess. His strikeout rate is way up and his power is down. Somehow coming to a hitters park has not led to more home runs. He has not added anything to this team, and at 35 it’s not like he might get better. The White Sox went the wrong direction going from Thome to Dunn to LaRoche.

The White Sox gave Carlos Sanchez a shot at the starting job after Micah Johnson didn’t work out. He is 45th out of 46th in WAR amongst 2B with at least 100 PA. That is really bad. He has always been pretty lousy at taking walks, but has been downright awful so far. Alexei Ramirez has been awful as well. He is 43rd out of 45 SS. Most of his stats continue to slip year after year, and he has been pretty bad on the base paths and he is almost completely out of power. 3B has been bad as well. Gordan Beckham is 37th and Conor Gillaspie is 46th, out of 46 3B. Glimpse’s hitting stats are way down from last year, although he has played a somewhat limited amount. The plan to hit him only against righties hasn’t improved his offense. Gordon Beckham is walking more, but also striking out more. His BABIP is way down though, which is why he has such a low batting average. He has show decent power though, and is one of the few candidates to have a chance to improve his stats in the 2nd half.

Melky Cabrera didn’t work out so much. He is 64th out of 66 LFs so far. His numbers are pretty much universally down across the board. There isn’t a lot more to say. He has been bad. And has two more years on his contract, and outfield is the one place where the White Sox have actual prospects. Adam Eaton was great last year, but this year, not so much. He is 43rd out of 45 CFs. His walks are down and strikeouts are slightly up, but he has also found enough power to double his career home run total already. You have to dig deep to find his issues, which mostly seem to be around the fact that has been hitting a lot of infield fly balls and not getting nearly as many infield hits. Maybe that is something he can figure out and correct. Continuing a trend, Avisail Garcia is 43rd out of 46th of RFs. He has been one of the worst baserunners in the ML at any position. After he recovered from getting hurt last year there was high hopes. He has regressed in pretty much every category and his usually high BABIP (.364) means it is not going to get much better.

There really isn’t anyone on the bench worth mentioning.

Defense

Good news, the White Sox are the worst team in defensive WAR, and it’s not even close. They have been seriously bad. Tyler Flowers has been pretty bad. 30th out of 31 catchers. It doesn’t get better from there. Carlos Sanchez is in the top half of 2B, but barely. Gordon Beckham is in the top half. But the three outfielders have been amongst the worst. There isn’t much more to say about the awful defense.

Starters

The White Sox starting pitching is 7th in WAR, 10th in FIP and expected FIP. They are also third in K/9 and 8th in BB/9. Their BABIP is the 2nd worst, mostly thanks to their awful defense. Chris Sale doesn’t need much analysis. He is 3rd in the ML in WAR and a strikeout machine. Somehow it seems like he is just getting better. Strikeout rate is up, walks are down, FIP is down, all of this with his home run rate is a bit up. He is as good as advertised. Jeff Samardzija is getting better. He is 27th in WAR (there are 93 qualified starters). He has a respectable FIP and his ERA is probably a bit higher than it should be. He has a great walk rate, even better than Sale, even though his strikeout rate is down. His BABIP is unusually high, as his LOB% (both of those are probably due to porous defense). Jose Quintana is 29th in WAR. For those keeping score that is three in the top 29. Only the Pirates have three as well2. Quintana is higher in walks than Samardzija or Sale, but he is better with home runs. His numbers aren’t as good as last year, but he is still one of the best #3 starters in baseball easily. And like the rest of the rotation he has suffered badly from horrible defense. Things fall off from there. John Danks is 79th in WAR, somehow still above zero though. His strikeouts are higher than hey have been since 2011, but his home run rate is even higher than his already lousy career average. The defense hasn’t hurt him quite as much, but his FIP is still as good as it’s been since 2011. Carlos Rodon is 10 starts into his career, and he has a major walk problem so far. But he is good at striking guys out, and has a great home run rate so far, mostly because of a low ground ball rate. It’s early, but he is going the right direction.

Relievers

The bullpen isn’t as good as the rotation, but it’s not horrible. 20th in WAR, 13th in K/9, 21st in BB/9, 22nd in HR/9, all of which leads them to 22nd in FIP. Despite a few rough outings, David Robertson is third amongst relievers in WAR. He has kept his walk rate down well below the career mark which has undoubtedly made an impact. Somehow his ground ball rate is way down too though, which is a bad sign. His FIP is almost the best it has ever been though, but he has probably been a bit lucky so far. Even still, he has been great, and for better or worse too expensive to trade. It’s easy to understand why the White Sox are so low when you see that after Robertson, the next White Sox reliever is Jake Petricka at 82nd. Petricka was one of the bright spots last season and he has done a decent job so far. Strikeouts are up, walks are down, but his ERA and FIP are right about where they were last year. He is 27 and relievers are unpredictable, so it’s hard to know how much of this to count on going forward. Scott Carroll is 89th in WAR, but somehow just got sent to the minor leagues. Carroll has been a bit lucky thanks to a low home run rate, but he has still been decent.

Zach Putnam but another bright spot last year, and has once again been solid. His strikeout rate is way up, unfortunately so are walks and homers. He hasn’t been as good this year as last year, and he is 28, so like Petricka it’s hard to get excited about the long term value. Dan Jennings is back from an injury, and he has just been OK so far. His ERA is artificially high thanks to some real bad luck, but he still hasn’t been great. Zach Duke on the other hand has been downright awful. He has been worth –0.5 wins above replacement. All of his numbers are way down from last season and he is giving up way more home runs. All of this with a low BABIP, one of the few on the team with that, and a high LOB%. His ERA is artificially low making it seem like he has been doing better than it seems. He hasn’t.

Outlook

It’s not good. The offense is abysmal. Abreu and Eaton have been slightly worse than last year. Cabrera and LaRoche did not deliver on high hopes for veteran stability. At 24 Avisail Garcia still has time to get better, but it definitely isn’t looking great. Neither Micah Johnson or Carlos Sanchez appear ready for the Majors. And Gillaspie, Beckham, Flowers and Ramirez have not improved. The defense was always a possible sketchy area, but Carlos Sanchez and Adam LaRoche didn’t improve things as expected.

The starting rotation has been pretty darn good. Sale, Samardzija and Quintana are a legitimate trio, and Carlos Rodon has been good enough to be a #4. Unfortunately this is the only playoff worthy portion of the team. At least Sale, Quintana and Rodon aren’t going anywhere.

The bullpen has been a mix of good and bad. Robertson is probably the only piece the White Sox can count on going forward. In other words, if any of the rest of these guys could be traded for anything useful it would make sense to do so.

It’s probably safe to say that the playoffs aren’t happening, so I hope the White Sox give some of their prospects a chance before the season is over.

  1. To put into perspective the #1 Blue Jays though, the gap between them and #2 Astros is more than the gap between #2 and #25 Rays. Unreal. []
  2. Nats, Indians, Dodgers, Cubs, Cards each have two []