White Sox Scorecard: Winning Ugly

Heading into Week 2 of the regular season, the White Sox have fallen behind the Cleveland Guardians (after getting swept in a three game series) into second place in the AL Central. How they remain in second is any data scientist’s guess because the numbers do not look good. For all the talk about the White Sox great lineup, the Sox offensive numbers are hurting.  According to MLB.com, the White Sox are 23rd in batting average, 22nd in RBI’s, 29th in On Base Percentage (OBP), 23rd in Slugging, which put them 26th in OPS.  For pitching, they are 16th in ERA, 10th in strikeouts, fourth in saves (thank you Liam Hendrikson), and 22nd in WHIP.  So the Sox are pulling out wins, some way, somehow.

Let’s take a look at how the White Sox offseason moves have impacted the start of the season.  All stats from MLB.com.

Position Players

What did the White Sox lose?What did the White Sox gain?
Nick Madrigal (2nd). .237/.293/.289 with a .582 OPS including 0 homers and 1 RBI.Josh Harrison. .107/.138/.214 with a .352 OPS including 0 homers and 1 RBI.
Kyle Schwarber (OF). .125/.205/.300 with a .505 OPS including 2 homers and 4 RBI’s.  

Jesse Winker.  .152/.349/.152 with a .500 OPS including 0 homers and 2 RBI’s.  

Nick Castellanos .293/.370/.537 with a .906 OPS including 2 homers and 6 RBI’s.  

Starling Marte. .263/.317/.447 with a .764 OPS including 2 homers and 10 RBI’s.
Leury Garcia. .069/.129/.103 with a .232 OPS including 0 homers and 0 RBI’s.  

Adam Engel. .263/.284/.358 with a .642 OPS including 0 homers and 0 RBI’s.  

Andrew Vaughn .313/.375/.556 with a .927 OPS including 2 homers and 6 RBI’s.  

AJ Pollock. Career .282 hitter and .820 OPS but found himself injured after 7 AB’s.
 Jake Burger.  .259/.314/.446 with a .760 OPS including 1 homer and 4 RBI’s.

The White Sox were not very acquisitive in the offseason but they also didn’t lose too many position players.  Nick Madrigal, the White Sox future second base was dealt to the Cubs in the Craig Kimbrel deal and is almost a lock to bat at least .280 with the Cubs this season.  His replacement, Josh Harrison is off to a tough start, thought the defense has been more than solid.  Jake Burger, who has played third and DH, is in his first full season with the White Sox and is a pleasant surprise at the plate so far.

Regarding the outfield, many fans, analysts, friends and relatives really hoped the White Sox would grab one of the high-profile outfielders on the market.  Though they did get a more than serviceable AJ Pollock from the Dodgers in the Craig Kimball deal, he was injured right away.  So we look at the opportunity cost of not grabbing some of the better free agent pickups versus sticking with the current rotation of Garcia, Engel, and Vaughn. Gavin Sheets and Adam Haseley also see action in the lawn.  Of course, Jimenez (when he is not DH) and Roberts are going nowhere (but possibly the IL). Schwarber has had a couple of homers but is off to a rough start, Winker looks like an intentional out, and Marte is doing OK.  Castellanos is killing it as is Andrew Vaughn, while Engel is doing OK and Garcia is in a rough patch. Right now, it doesn’t look like the Sox made a bad choice sticking with their guys.

Starting Pitching

What did the White Sox lose?What did the White Sox gain?
Carlos Rodon. 17 IP, 1.06 ERA, 29 strikeouts, .82 WHIP.Michael Kopech. 9 IP, 1.00 ERA, 8 strikeouts, .78 WHIP.

We knew it would hurt to lose Rodon, but as dominating as he has been with the Giants, you have to like what Kopech has done so far.  We can think about, “What if we paid Rodon,” but Lucas Giolito will be back within a week and Lance Lynn will still play most of the season.  If those ballers meet expectations and Kopech is even half as good as he his start has been, we won’t even be able to spell Rodon by the All-Star break.

Relief Pitcher

What did the White Sox lose?What did the White Sox gain?
Ryan Tepera.  5 IP, 3.60 ERA, .600 WHIP  

Craig Kimbrel, 3 games, 3 saves, 3 strikeouts, 3.00 ERA, .667 WHIP.    
Kendall Graveman. 6 IP, 3.00 ERA, .67 WHIP.  

Vince Velasquez. 8.2 IP, 4.15 ERA, 1.50 WHIP.  

The White Sox bullpen has so far been up and down.  Velasquez turns out be an invaluable acquisition because he has been able to help out with the rotation while Lynn and Giolito recuperate.  Giolito hopes to return in the weekend series against the Twins but Lynn is still more than a month out.  Graveman has been great as a shutdown reliever and set up man for Hendriks.  Hendriks stats are skewed due to an opening day nightmare blown save and a run or two given up after (5.40 ERA and 2.40 WHIP) but still has four saves so far.

For this week’s scorecard, we give the White Sox a thumbs up for their offseason decisions.  The lineup is still very powerful, although clearly slow to shrug off the offseason rust.  With Kopech’s performance so far, Rodon hasn’t been missed.  The big question mark is the decision to not pick up an outfield ringer.  If Vaughn’s performance continues and/or Pollock has a standard year for himself, the question will go away quickly.


  • Larry Goldman

    Larry spends his nights and days watching, researching, and writing about sports in Chicago and the national conversation.

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