The White Sox Still Aren’t a Very Good Team

The White Sox won’t stop. I mean, at some point they will, because they’ll have to, and maybe they’ve reached that point now that they’ve signed Melky Cabrera, but Rick Hahn and the rest of his front office have had an incredibly busy month, adding to a roster that featured a handful of big-leaguers and not too much else. I had a thought, in early November, to write about the few teams who I figured wouldn’t be contenders in 2015. The White Sox were among them. I didn’t write the article, because I didn’t like it, and now I’m glad I didn’t because the front office has had maybe the most active few weeks in the league. It’s pretty clear that the team intends to win.

I still don’t think the White Sox are ready to win. This is where there’s a bit of important nuance: I don’t think the White Sox are ready to win, but I don’t have a great disagreement with the direction of all the activity. Generally speaking, I like what Rick Hahn has done, and he’s certainly managed to build fan enthusiasm around a team many were prepared to ignore not even that long ago. Why not spend, if you can spend? Why not improve, if you can improve? The White Sox haven’t lost too much of long-term value in making all these additions. I just think, despite everything, there’s not enough in place. It’s not an easy thing to do, to turn a pretty bad team into a pretty good team in a couple of months.

I don’t know how much more there is that Rick Hahn can do. Consider:

[…]general manager Rick Hahn and executive vice president Ken Williams stating they had spent pretty much all they could after the Robertson move was announced at the Winter Meetings in San Diego.

So, not long ago, the White Sox said they were basically out of spending money. Then they gave more than $40 million to free-agent Melky Cabrera. So either they’re extra out of money, or they still have the resources to tweak. In any case, the White Sox are probably finished making major decisions. Maybe it feels early to you, but they’ve essentially compressed an entire offseason into a very short window of time.

It feels like Hahn has accomplished everything he would’ve wanted to. The White Sox had nothing to pair with Jose Abreu at 1B/DH. Enter Adam LaRoche. The White Sox had nothing happening in the bullpen. Enter David Robertson and Zach Duke. The White Sox had nothing happening in left field that wasn’t Dayan Viciedo. Enter Melky Cabrera. And the White Sox had nothing happening behind Chris Sale and Jose Quintana in the starting rotation. Enter Jeff Samardzija. All these areas, where the White Sox were more or less projected to receive replacement-level contributions. They’ve upgraded, with talented players. Those guys combine to project for about 9 WAR in 2015. Last year, combined, they were worth about 11. That’s a massive step forward.

But then, remember how much the White Sox had to do. Turning this team into a good one would’ve been a major undertaking. At least, if you also weren’t looking to sacrifice a bunch of the future. The following table ought to be instructive. I included the same sort of table when I wrote about LaRoche, far earlier in the offseason. This is based on Steamer and the depth charts, and I understand many of you have quibbles with both of those, but for the sake of completing this post, let’s just continue the post. Projected positional WAR:

Team C 1B 2B SS 3B LF CF RF DH SP RP WAR
AL Avg. 3.3 2.6 2.5 2.5 3.3 2.5 2.8 2.4 1.6 9.0 2.3 34.8
White Sox 1.4 3.3 0.5 2.4 1.2 1.8 2.2 1.3 2.3 10.5 2.0 28.8
AL Rank 15 2 14 8 13 13 9 13 4 4 8 14

The White Sox have turned plenty of zeros into not-zeros. Yet, weaknesses remain. LaRoche is a fine player, but seemingly not a good player. Cabrera is an average player, but seemingly not a great player. The situation isn’t good behind the plate, nor is it good at second base now that Marcus Semien has gone elsewhere. Third base is manned by half a platoon, and as much as I like Adam Eaton, his ceiling is modest. Avisail Garcia is mostly potential. The rotation is obviously strong but lacking in back-end depth, and the bullpen has simply been upgraded to not-dreadful.

There’s no question in my mind that the White Sox could contend in the season ahead. The stars on the team are legitimate stars, and now the roster’s got a hell of a lot more depth. The example we keep going back to is that the Royals almost won the World Series, so why not try to be at least as good as the Royals? The White Sox project almost as well as last year’s Royals, but then when you examine the greater context, most American League teams could say at least the same. The White Sox aren’t the only team trying to give it a go. Everyone in the AL East looks better. Most of the AL West looks better, and most of the AL Central looks better. The White Sox have definitely improved their odds, but with just about everyone trying to be better right away, I think the level of activity conveys an improvement that’s greater than it really is. The White Sox have gotten several wins better, but they entered the offseason several wins behind.

Eventually we’ll see what ZiPS has to say. That’ll be important, to blend with Steamer, like we did a year ago. Maybe ZiPS likes the White Sox a little bit more. Also, we’ll see how much more Rick Hahn manages to do to round out his 25 men. He could use an infielder, an infielder not too terribly unlike Marcus Semien. He could use a little more pitching depth. What the White Sox could stand to add are some players around the 1-WAR ability level. There’s a perception those players are easy to find, but the White Sox don’t have enough of them. The danger of evaluating in the middle of December is a roster in the middle of December isn’t a roster in the middle of April.

One potential bright side is the White Sox could have a heck of a playoff pitching staff. If they were to advance, they could conceivably have Sale/Samardzija/Quintana 1-2-3, and then Robertson-Duke in relief. And then they’d have the Carlos Rodon wild card, either as a fourth starter or as a shutdown reliever. If the White Sox were to get to October, they could stop worrying about their relatively thin pitching staff, so that’s one point in favor of this sort of roster construction. It’s good for the World Series odds.

And I guess the ultimate point is the White Sox have real World Series odds now, where a month or so ago they stood at basically 0%. I don’t see them as a very good team, despite everything, but they’re obviously better and they didn’t lose too much, given the protected first-round draft pick. The 2016 roster could look very similar to the 2015 roster, maybe replacing Samardzija with Rodon. So Rick Hahn has successfully turned an also-ran into a team that’ll be competitive in the overwhelming majority of its ballgames. The longer-term outlook is still mostly intact.

Yet it’s easy to make a bad team decent. It’s a lot harder to make a decent team good. The Royals demonstrated that sometimes decent is enough, but then the Royals haven’t happened very often.



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Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.


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tz
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tz
1 year 5 months ago

I can’t help thinking that some of this is driven by having two stars right in their prime (Sale and Abreu). You don’t want to wait TOO long and have the rest of the roster in prime shape right as the stars slip to being just average.

Might be part of why Seattle went after Cano last year, with Felix at his apex.

Bridgeport Joe
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Bridgeport Joe
1 year 5 months ago

I think this is right. Hahn figured that rather than waste 5+ WAR seasons from Sale and Abreu (and, to a lesser extent, Quintana), he either needed to trade them or build around them. The Sox picked the latter.

Expo45
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Expo45
1 year 5 months ago

I’m almost certain that the same thinking drove the Blue Jays spending spree in the winter of 2012. They had Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion bloom into superstars kind of out of nowhere. Bautista was over 30 already and Edwin was turning 30, so the window they provided was likely to be short. The Jays pulled out of a longterm rebuilding plan to try to win while their stars were at their peak. The White Sox haven’t depleted their farm and cost controlled player base nearly as badly as the Jays did, but the moves look similar.

Bridgeport Joe
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Bridgeport Joe
1 year 5 months ago

Yes, I agree. If — as predicted by Steamer — every single White Sox player regresses, and most of them do so dramatically (e.g., Abreu goes from 5.3 WAR to 3.7 WAR, Quintana goes from 5.3 WAR to 2.4 WAR, etc.), then the White Sox won’t be a great team.

Of course, in a super insane world where some of the players regress, some get better, and some stay about the same, then this is a .500+ team with a good bit of upside.

Miguel
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Miguel
1 year 5 months ago

“some of the players regress, some get better, and some stay about the same”

At the risk of sounding pedantic: this is largely what projections already consider. In light of data we know to regress (e.g. BABIP, HR/FB rate, LOB%, etc.) and expectations of performance based upon age, the projection systems land at a middle ground as they consider those things in addition to odds of improvement, odds of decline, odds of injury, etc. WSox projections aren’t uniquely downward skewing (except e.g. to the extent that their offense has a few older players and a few players with high 2014 BABIPs) but already consider exactly what considerations you think make this a .500 team.

Of course, N=25 is not a huge sample; there’s a reason we play the season instead of projecting it. But in December I’d rather have this type of analysis, given what I know of how it works, than baldfaced assertions.

Bridgeport Joe
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Bridgeport Joe
1 year 5 months ago

I think it’s a .500 team because the additions (and subtractions) have added about 12 wins to a 71 win (first, second or third order) Pythagorean team from 2014, BEFORE the bullpen additions are taken into account. Steamer doesn’t think that’s enough because it thinks literally every single White Sox player will be worse — and many of them MUCH worse — and maybe that’s true. But I’m not buying.

Miguel
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Miguel
1 year 5 months ago

That’s…not really how this works.

Bridgeport Joe
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Bridgeport Joe
1 year 5 months ago

I know how it works. But my issue is the same regardless. I think Steamer is unrealistically pessimistic. For whatever reason.

Costanza
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Costanza
1 year 5 months ago

Joe, while I respect your opinion, my reading of this thread boiled down to a bit of optimism from your perspective objecting to a bit of pessimism from Steamer.

FWIW, Steamer is going to have almost every player regress; it doesn’t mean “get worse”, it means “approach the mean”. So your objection is not that steamer has players regressing, but that steamer has too many players regressing downwards and too few regression in a positive direction. One situation that would create this is if Steamer thought the guys last year had on-field performance not likely to continue.

It’s worth noting that steamer is always pessimistic against playing time, which brings down some WAR projections compared to a mental model based on a full season. I think the idea is you always have to project some injury / off time for players, meaning most guys are projected in the 140-150 game range. (And why we often normalize projections for 550/600PA).

Ned
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Ned
1 year 5 months ago

I don’t think you do fully understand how it works. Nobody on the White Sox performed lower than their established career norms, due to low BABIPs for the hitters or high BABIPs for the pitchers, and they don’t have a rookie or 2nd year guy who tore up AAA pitching, so nobody on their team is due for positive regression or an improved forecast on 2013. It’s really that simple.

To your point, of course they will have players beat their projections. But I don’t see how you can expect Steamer to forecast a guy like Alexei Ramirez to double his career ISO, or Tyler Flowers to cut his K rate in half, or some previously weak pitcher develops a new, unhittable cutter. I agree with you that something like this probably will happen, players improve all the time. But projection systems cannot hope to capture that.

Pithy GM
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Pithy GM
1 year 5 months ago

So, what is the correlation between projected WAR and end-of-season WAR? Is projected WAR a worthwhile analytical tool other than a quick and dirty proxy for talent?

Costanza
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Costanza
1 year 5 months ago

I think WAR is a superior system to estimating talent. What do you mean by “talent”? Is it potential? Ceiling? Skill over other players? What about unrealized talent? Is Justin Upton more talented than Josh Donaldson, despite the latter being the better baseball player?

WAR tries to measure and sum up all the things a player does and connect that to wins.

Rational Fan
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Rational Fan
1 year 5 months ago

The perfect analogue to Dave Cameron’s slobbering Cubs piece last week. The Cubs are contenders because they added an objectively bad C and a past-his-prime SP to one good hitter and a bunch of unproven rookies. Meanwhile, the Sox — who have three SPs better than any on the sCrubs, the best hitter in Chicago, and proven bats and bullpen arms “aren’t very good.” Call me when the prospect train slows down — if the reverse of these two pieces coming true is the brakes, I bet it will be sometime in October.

Bridgeport Joe
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Bridgeport Joe
1 year 5 months ago

Cameron et al. really are underestimating what an improvement in the bullpen can do. Because the innings are mostly really high leverage or low leverage, you can’t just add up actual or projected WAR. You have to look at WPA. And if you do that, the impact of moving a bullpen from awful to average is about twice as much as WAR would predict.

chuckb
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chuckb
1 year 5 months ago

WAR for relievers includes leverage.

johnq
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johnq
1 year 5 months ago

No it doesn’t.

arc
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1 year 5 months ago
johnq
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johnq
1 year 5 months ago

Hm. I stand corrected, I guess.

The WAR for pitchers page doesn’t discuss it (http://www.fangraphs.com/library/war/calculating-war-pitchers/) and the final of the 7 part series explicitly acknowledges that they could factor in LI, but they don’t.

Maybe it is just out of date.

uh-huh
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uh-huh
1 year 5 months ago

That’s right. Everyone, including algorithms, are biased and hates the White Sox. Fangraphs should only post “Sox Rule!!!” stories. So says the guy who works sCrubs into his comment.

chuckb
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chuckb
1 year 5 months ago

Don’t forget the guy who says the White Sox have 3 pitchers better than Jon Lester.

Costanza
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Costanza
1 year 5 months ago

When people use phrases like “proven bats/arms”, it’s a lazy way of saying, “I think they’re good at this skill but don’t have the ability to quantify it.”

Reddy
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Reddy
1 year 5 months ago

Well, to be fair, the Sox DO have two pitchers that are clearly better than Lester, and Shark is comparable.

Tinker2Evers2Chance
Member
Tinker2Evers2Chance
1 year 5 months ago

So Sale and… Jose Quintana? “Clearly better than Lester”??? Or you’re referring to a reliever, which is maybe even sillier.

TKDC
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TKDC
1 year 5 months ago

No they don’t.

JayT
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JayT
1 year 5 months ago

War over the last three years:
Jon Lester 13.6

Chris Sale: 15.2
Jose Quintana: 10.6
Jeff Samardzija: 9.5
John Danks: 1.4
Hector Noesi: -0.2

Not sure I see three (or even two) pitchers better than Lester there.

Reddy
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Reddy
1 year 5 months ago

I’d take Quintana over Lester at this point in both of their careers. One’s going to start declining, and the other’s just getting better. And Quintana is incredibly more valuable because of his contract. For Lester’s contract you get Quintana and about three more guys on the big league roster.

steex
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steex
1 year 5 months ago

“Your mom still isn’t a very good team” would’ve been a more sensible comment than the one you made.

ralph
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ralph
1 year 5 months ago

Never would have guessed a projected 1.4 WAR for White Sox catchers would put them last in the AL in terms of catcher WAR projections.

Which got me curious about how many teams were projected to do worse in the catching department over in the NL. Which led to something that seems surprising — the bottom 5 team catching projections are overall much higher than I would have expected:

Pirates: 2.0 WAR
Braves: 2.0 WAR
Marlins: 1.5 WAR
White Sox: 1.4 WAR
Diamondbacks: 0.5 WAR

For those who don’t know, you can see the full list here: http://www.fangraphs.com/depthcharts.aspx?position=C

ralph
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ralph
1 year 5 months ago

Not related to the article, but discovered as I went through more position depth chart projections. (Other positions generally had what seemed like a much more reasonable amount of teams projected to sub-2.0 and sub 1.0-WAR totals):

The Rangers are currently projected to be #29 in DH WAR.

witesoxfan
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witesoxfan
1 year 5 months ago

“And I guess the ultimate point is the White Sox have real World Series odds now, where a month or so ago they stood at basically 0%.”

This to me is the gist of the article to me. The White Sox are probably around a .500 team right now, and if things go right, they could be quite a bit better. Projections are what they are and guys outperform them all the time, but as the roster is currently constructed, it’s probably an average team from a contextually neutral setting where adding context alone could add 5 wins to the team and several guys can outperform their current projections and they could end up as an 88 or 90 win team. Or the opposite can happen. That’s why you play the games.

Hahn added some nice pieces to the team and it should be a more enjoyable year, and maybe they win quite a few games and we get to enjoy White Sox postseason baseball.

circlechange11
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circlechange11
1 year 5 months ago

An average team with some upside can refer to lots of teams.

I think teams go into the season looking for some guys to outperform their projections to contend.

Isnt this usually the difference between that just make the playoffs and those that dont? Injuries included in this players that dont make the playoffs.

I’m a cardinal fan living in cub country and I routinely have to listen to cub optimism regarding everyone outperforming their projections.

Catoblepas
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Catoblepas
1 year 5 months ago

I like this article, and more generally, this trend of teams trying to smooth out the competitiveness cycle. It’s much more enjoyable to have 20 teams with a legitimate shot in April at winning the WS than it is to have 6-10. I think teams are starting to realize that, while working for both the short- and the long-term leads to some moves that seem at odds with each other, the error factor is just too large to build around huge boom/bust cycles. Take the Astros — they have a lot of talent, for sure, “earned” through several years of aggressive terribleness. But in any given season so many players can underperform, or not make it to the season at all, that there’s a substantial chance they were horrible on purpose and see basically nothing in the way of results.
The net outcome of all this thinking is a lot of teams with similar talent levels, which is what we’ve seen over the past couple years and, in my opinion, great baseball.

Gabes
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Gabes
1 year 5 months ago

Does anyone know the reason for the discrepancy in Adam Eaton’s defensive numbers? He was a +12 by DRS last year, but -3.3 by UZR. Steamer projects him to be even worse in the field next year as well.

Blueyays
Member
Blueyays
1 year 5 months ago

I don’t know, but one thought is that DRS takes into acocunt plays with a shift, whereas UZR ignores them, so perhaps that’s part of it? Though that’d probably have more of an impact for infielders than for outfielders.

Not an Analyst
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Not an Analyst
1 year 5 months ago

I’ve long suspected that UZR rewards outfielders who play in large stadiums and punished outfielders who play in small stadiums (maybe infielders, too, to a lesser degree). Can anyone speak to this?

My understanding is that UZR rewards you for balls you travel further to catch, with all balls being assigned a binary, catch-no catch outcome. But what happens if you would have caught the ball, had it not gone over the fence or been caught by someone else? And if you have less square footage in a stadium by, say, 10%, wouldn’t that make every fielders UZR look worse?

Put another way, if you take two players with equal range and put one in center field in a large stadium (e.g., Arizona, Colorado, KC, Detroit, Miami, Seattle, etc.) and one in a small stadium (e.g., Chicago, Philadelphia, Toronto), UZR will rate the player in the large stadium higher. A center fielder in a small stadium is going to get called off by neighboring outfielders or infielders moving back, plus run out of room against the fence more often than an outfielder with equal range in a large stadium. This is why one would imagine the penalty for playing Manny Ramirez in left field in Boston is much lower than it would be to play them in left field in Seattle, which would be a disaster. But an outfielder in left field in Toronto, like Melky Cabrera, will look worse by UZR in that setting than he would in a larger outfield.

Of course, there’s going to be a lot of noise, but I imagine you could eventually get enough data to test this. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

pitnick
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pitnick
1 year 5 months ago

Maybe based on career UZR numbers? He’s -9.3 in UZR/150 over his career in CF, and a little worse if you factor in the handful of innings in the corners. If Steamer isn’t looking at DRS, makes sense that it would project worse than the -3.3.

Phantom Stranger
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Phantom Stranger
1 year 5 months ago

I presume the plan is to sneak into the playoffs via a wild card and hope that Chris Sale goes all Madison Bumgarner in the playoffs. All the discussion seems to be GMs purposely constructing their teams to win 88-90 games, since that is all you need to get in the playoffs these days.

Apparently the Dodgers are the only team aiming for 100 wins…

petelunchbox
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petelunchbox
1 year 5 months ago

Looked up White Sox 2014 vs Steamer:
WAR2014-Steamer
Abreu 5.3-3.7
Quintana 5.3-2.4
Flowers 1.8-.8
Alexei 3.3-2.3
Eaton 2.7-2.2
Melky 2.6-1.8
Sale 5.4-4.7
Robertson 1.7-1.0
Duke 1.3-.5
Danks .8-.4
Gillaspie 1.2-1.0

That is 10.6 wins right there. The only regular projected to improve from 2014 is Garcia: -0.4-1.0, which is mainly due to injuries last year.

No idea what could cause an entire team to project to regress that hard, or if it is something that can be found for nearly every team.

Bridgeport Joe
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Bridgeport Joe
1 year 5 months ago

“or if it is something that can be found for nearly every team.”

Nope. Just looking at the Tigers and Indians, it’s much more realistic — about a third of the players project to improve, and the rest range from “about the same” to “worse.” There’s nothing even remotely resembling the White Sox pessimism.

nilodnayr
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nilodnayr
1 year 5 months ago

I didn’t look at every team either, but comparing the 2015 top 4 position players and top 3 SPs of the Cubs and the Sox and you get the Cubs dropping from an actual 2014 WAR of 26.1 to steamer’s 16.5 vs the Sox dropping from 28.7 to 20.2.

So way more regression happening on the north side…maybe steamer’s dog was killed by a deep dish pizz.

Ted
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Ted
1 year 5 months ago

The offense had pretty much exclusively high-achievers in terms of the traditional regression candidates, with little in the way of negative outcomes in those areas.

The pitcher projections seem generally more pessimistic w/r/t performance as such. I didn’t comb through as much, but I did note that every one of Sale/Robertson/Duke/Quintana/Samardzija, except Robertson, put up career-high WAR last year.

Ted
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Ted
1 year 5 months ago

FWIW by my count, we’d be looking at 6.2 more WAR if each of those guys played as well as last year (again, career year WAR for all of them). That’s pretty much squarely AL average in aggregate, which as Jeff notes above is still not quite playoff average. [Insert requisite 2014 Royals point here.]

Bridgeport Joe
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Bridgeport Joe
1 year 5 months ago

Keep in mind the bullpen point. Going by WPA, the Sox bullpen was about six wins below average last year. WAR is a really crappy stat to use when evaluating relief pitching, because so many situations are so high leverage (or vice versa). The standard runs saved analysis doesn’t apply when a run can mean an automatic loss or a bunch of runs can mean relatively little.

Ted
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Ted
1 year 5 months ago

As noted above, WAR for RPs includes leverage. More foundationally, RP WAR ambivalence doesn’t really shine any light on anything that would help us much here.

Bridgeport Joe
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Bridgeport Joe
1 year 5 months ago

I’m really skeptical that the LI adjustment of 1.8 is sufficient. Last year, the White Sox were about 2.4 below the league average re: relief pitching. But they blew six saves more than league average — and of course, this doesn’t include non-save situations where the bullpen blows the game. I can’t really square those two things.

Costanza
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Costanza
1 year 5 months ago

Joe you’re having trouble squaring those things because the numbers don’t reflect your internal model of the world, and so your impulse is to throw the numbers out. Not because they’re worse, but because it doesn’t match your prior belief. This is why we have projections.

If you believe the White Sox are much better than the projections, let’s put a bet on it. There are sites where you can bet people on arbitrary things. How does $10 sound?

Bridgeport Joe
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Bridgeport Joe
1 year 5 months ago

I swore off gambling after putting $100 down on the White Sox to win the 2005 World Series (when, if memory serves, BP/PECOTA predicted them to win 72 games). I figured I’d call it quits after that.

Anyway, it’s not that the numbers conflict with my “internal model of the world.” It’s that the White Sox bullpen ACTUALLY BLEW six-plus games more than an average bullpen in 2014. A number that says they were two wins worse than an average bullpen simply doesn’t make sense in light of that. I don’t need to look at FIP or xFIP or fWAR or whatever. I can look at game logs and see how much worse the bullpen was than average, at least in terms of actually winning games.

Now, maybe that’s just randomness. Maybe the bullpen really was two wins worse than average (though this ISN’T reflected by WPA), and they were just “unlucky” to actually lose six or eight games more than the average bullpen. But that doesn’t really matter. If the bullpen gets back to average and has neutral luck, they’ll be six or seven or eight wins better in the win column. That’s an improvement that no one is considering when they sub in Robertson and Duke (and probably Rodon in the second half) and just swap out projected WARs.

dl80
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dl80
1 year 5 months ago

Not every blown save is a loss.

Canadian Doug
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Canadian Doug
1 year 5 months ago

Bridgeport Joe, Blown Saves is a really crappy stat to use when evaluating relief pitching. For one thing, it has more to do with opportunities and usage than it does with effectiveness or quality of pitching. For another, all blown saves are not equal. If you come in with a one-run lead and the bases loaded with none out, and get two strikeouts and a weak grounder which the shortstop throws over the first baseman’s head, that’s hardly the same as starting the inning with a three-run lead and giving up four runs – but they both count as one blown save. And contrary to your assertion, six blown saves does NOT equal blowing six games. You can have three blown saves in one game and still win the game.

petelunchbox
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petelunchbox
1 year 5 months ago

Just to round it out with all of the projected regulars right now:
Samardzija 4.1-3.1
Noesi .5-.2
LaRoche 1.6-1.5

And one more who is projected to improve:
Sanchez -.3-.7

Interestingly enough:
Semien .6-2.1 (though pretty much entirely due to playing time)

chuckb
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chuckb
1 year 5 months ago

Some of the distinction, I’m sure has to do with playing time projections. Projections don’t usually include 600+ PA’s due to the non – zero possibility that a player will get injured early on and have 0-100 PA’s. A 50% projection for any player will have substantially fewer PA’s because each might get hurt and miss the entire season.

I think if you look at any team, you’ll see the same sort of “shortages.” Clayton Kershaw had 7.2 WAR last season and is projected for 5.1. Greinke had 3.9 and projects for 3.1.

There is not a systemic bias, as some here believe, against the White Sox. In fairness, I’m sure fans of every team show up here and are similarly outraged about perceived slights against their team.

What matters more than the numbers at this point, is the ranking of the teams and the distances between them. The best teams in baseball are projected for around 87 wins. That’s not where they’ll end up. They’ll be much higher because more of their players will hit their 80%+ projection and/or will reach 600+PA’s.

KK-Swizzle
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KK-Swizzle
1 year 5 months ago

I think the biggest discrepancies come from Steamer’s incorporation of aging curves and minor league performance. Lawrie is expected to progress because of these and improved injury luck, whereas guys like Melky and Abreu are expected to regress because they are are the downswing of their careers or have never put up these types of performances. Looking at this list, I can come up with legitimate arguments for 4 players having projections that are more than a half a win too low:

Duke, for his approach/repertoire changes
Robertson, for his 3 year run of excellence
Quintana, for his improved control being for real
Eaton, for UZR underrating his defense for some reason

As for Abreu…there just aren’t many 5-win bats out there, and he’ll need to keep this up for another year or two before such a projection is reasonable

I’m not saying this because I hate the White Sox…I’m saying it because the projections are undoubtedly better than you or I am at predicting future performance!

Andres Cantor's golden throat
Guest
Andres Cantor's golden throat
1 year 5 months ago

Agreed on all points, except for Abreu. He was so much better during the second half of 2014 than the first (especially in the underlying plate discipline performance), I tend to think the 165 wRC+ is sustainable. In fact, I wouldn’t be leery of taking the over in 2015, provided I had 3-2 odds as an inducement.

The Jose Quintana Steamer projection is just silly, of course. He’s logged two full seasons as an MLB starter, tossed 200 innings per year, and averaged 4.5 WAR whether measured by Fangraphs or Baseball Reference. And now he’s projected to collapse into a 2.4 WAR hurler?

Meanwhile MadBum for example has been valued at exactly 3.6 fWAR in each of the past two seasons… and he projects at 3.4 for 2015. The southpaws are the same age, same good health history. I can’t see how Quintana, who’s been 25% more valuable than Bumgarner over the past two seasons, should suddenly be 30% less valuable than his N.L. counterpart. Anyway I sure wouldn’t bet on that one coming true.

Noah Baron
Member
Noah Baron
1 year 5 months ago

If you expect Quintana to be a 5.3 WAR player in 2015 you’re delusional

PapaGiorgio
Guest
PapaGiorgio
1 year 5 months ago

My entire take on this article depends on whether or not your headline reads they’re NOT very good, or they’re not VERY good.

Joe
Guest
Joe
1 year 5 months ago

Just curious, what is it about Steamer projections that people don’t like? I don’t know much about the different projection systems.

Jon L.
Guest
Jon L.
1 year 5 months ago

People are optimistic about their home team’s players. Steamer is neutral.

People get excited about surprising breakout performances. Steamer figures they call for regression to the mean.

People expect top prospects to have spectacular first seasons like Mike Trout did. Steamer expects them to play like recent minor leaguers.

Some people have more informed and nuanced reasons for being skeptical of Steamer’s predictions – for instance, it’s not aware of the nature of injuries that affect performance – but those people usually explain them.

Josh
Guest
Josh
1 year 5 months ago

Perfectly stated

ChummyZ
Guest
ChummyZ
1 year 5 months ago

Nothing you said is about Steamer in particular. That’s pretty much a summary as to what any decent projection system should do.

I just find that Steamer is wildly enthusiastic about players like Lawrie and Montero where is seems like there’s nothing in the past few years to justify such an extreme projection.

Some of its numbers seem reasonable, but others seem way low or way high. I have less of a problem with Steamer per se and more of a problem with Dave and co’s absolutely religious devotion to them as fact during the offseason. Most of Dave’s articles are “Steamer says…” with little thought behind it. Just regurgitating it as if it’s gospel because it’s the only projection out right now.

KDL
Guest
KDL
1 year 5 months ago

The vast majority of people complaining about Steamer aren’t complaining about Steamer in relation to other projections.
The vast majority of people are complaining about projections in general – which know far less than the complainer, because Steamer/projections didn’t watch 147 [insert team] games last year.

There are some who will talk about Zips being better, etc. But those folks also tend not to be the one’s claiming that projections are BIASED against their favorite teams (no bias there!).

Canadian Doug
Guest
Canadian Doug
1 year 5 months ago

“Wildly enthusiastic” about Lawrie and Montero? Hardly.

Lawrie will turn 25 next month, and has a career slash line of .265/.323/.426; Steamer projects .263/.324/.425, virtually an exact match. Miguel Montero is 31 and has a career slash line of .264/.342/.421; Steamer projects .250/.340/.379. I wouldn’t call those projections “extreme”; if anything, I would call them fairly conservative.

It is true that Steamer’s projections for these two players look somewhat optimistic if you just compare them to their 2013/2014 numbers, but even then they’re hardly “extreme”: compared to 2014, Steamer projects Lawrie’s OPS to increase by .027, Montero’s by .020. But both players suffered from unusually low BABIPs in each of the last two years. Montero’s BABIPs in 2013/14 were .282 and .275 (compared to .317 or higher in each of the previous five seasons); Lawrie’s were .280 and .260 (compared to .311 in 2012 and much higher than that in the minors). Just regressing to a “normal” BABIP would probably result in an even greater improvement than Steamer projects.

This is related to John L.’s point regarding breakout performances and regression to the mean. More generally, I would say that:

People tend to look at a player’s most recent stat line and assume that it reflects his “true” level of ability. Steamer knows that looking at the entirety of a player’s career is a much more reliable gauge of his true ability than looking at just one (possibly anomalous) season.

Pirates Hurdles
Guest
Pirates Hurdles
1 year 5 months ago

The issue with the Lawrie projection is more playing time related than the slash. Not sure anyone is willing to bet money on him getting to 4 wins with 560 plate appearances.

Noah Baron
Member
Noah Baron
1 year 5 months ago

Steamer also doesn’t take into account minor league park factors, a major problem with the system.

Pirates Hurdles
Guest
Pirates Hurdles
1 year 5 months ago

Steamer does have an inherent flaw in my opinion because it does not consider the probability of events very well. A team loaded with 2014 under-achievers (vs career norms) would be overrated by steamer, because it will assume positive regression by all the players. However, in reality the odds of every player bouncing back on the same roster is exceptionally small. Thus the A’s steamer projections look crazy high offensively. The same can be said in the reverse direction as some here are pointing out. The bottom line is that Steamer doesn’t seem to be as good as Zips when trying to evaluate meaningful changes in players abilities.

Andres Cantor's golden throat
Guest
Andres Cantor's golden throat
1 year 5 months ago

There’s something else, too.

If one looks at the current Steamer projected standings, it takes ten seconds to realize it absolutely will not actually come to pass. There has never been and will never be a season when the best team in the majors wins just 13 more games than the next-to-worst.

So that frustrates some people’s sensibilities. They want to shake Steamer by the lapels and say, “That can’t happen! Fix yourself, machine!” Well, that’s what I want to do sometimes anyway. ;)

skippyballer486
Member
skippyballer486
1 year 5 months ago

Andres, Steamer is not projecting that the best team will win 13 more games than the 2nd-worst. Steamer is projecting the Dodgers to win 88 games, and projecting the Diamondbacks to win 75 games. That is not the same thing.

Steamer is projecting eight teams with 85 or more wins, and six teams with 76 or less wins. If each team has a 10% chance of beating its projection (or falling short) by ten games that means Steamer is calling it basically even money to have one of those eight good teams win 95 games and one of those six bad teams win 66 games. If it’s a 25 percent chance to beat your projection by ten games than the top eight teams are projected to have at least one of them win 95 or more games ninety percent of the time.

What Steamer is doing is attempting to predict the most likely outcome for each individual team. This will almost always result in aggregate standings that are more “bunched up” than reality is likely to produce. Imagine a six-team league with three good teams and three bad teams. The three good teams are all exactly 87 wins of true talent. The three bad teams are all exactly 75 wins of true talent. Once reality happens some of these teams will outperform their expectations due to luck, while others will underperform. So the final standings might end up with one team at 69 wins, one at 75, two at 81, one at 87, and one at 93. But you wouldn’t want to try to predict one team for 93 wins and another for 69; you know the three good teams are most likely to win 87 games. You also know one will probably get lucky and win ninety-plus. But you don’t know which one, so trying to guess means you’re just as likely to pick correctly as to pick the team that ends up underperforming. Picking each of the good teams to win 87 games is the best you can do in the long run, even though it will mean you’ll almost always have predicted the team who ends up winning the most games to have won less, and vice versa for the biggest loser.

Hurtlocker
Guest
Hurtlocker
1 year 5 months ago

The Cubs and the White Sox are optimistic in the same year, what a concept!!

Antonio Bananas
Guest
1 year 5 months ago

How about picking up Gattis? Braves seem to be shopping Gattis and Upton.

witesoxfan
Guest
witesoxfan
1 year 5 months ago

The White Sox don’t have a lot of money left, so they couldn’t just take BJ Upton along with him. I also don’t think there’s enough upside in such a move to justify it – Gattis is probably a peak 3 WAR player as a catcher and more likely to be around 2 WAR, while Flowers projects for 1 WAR and put up 1.8 WAR last year. Is that worth eating BJ Upton’s contract or giving up Tim Anderson or Frank Montas? I’d say that’s a definite no, and I don’t think they have enough other high upside prospects to justify such a move.

Look for possibly one more starting pitcher and call it an offseason. If they don’t, Danks/Noesi are “not terrible” options for the 4 and 5 spot. They are close to that threshold, but I don’t think they quite hit terrible.

Antonio Bananas
Guest
1 year 5 months ago

What about just Gattis? Braves are loading up and don’t really have a spot for Gattis unless they plan on trotting him out to LF, which would negate a lot of his bat.

Gattis as a C/DH, Abreu as a 1B/DH, LaRoche as a 1B/DH is a decent mix to play with. Gattis hits lefties like an MVP. Vs Lefties, Flowers at C, Gattis at DH, Abreu at 1B. Vs Righties Gattis at C, Abreu at DH, LaRoche at 1B would seem to maximize everyone.

Eric
Guest
Eric
1 year 5 months ago

If the White Sox want to seriously contend, they should make two more moves on the pitching front, another starter and a reliever, because their offense relative to their pitching was not all that horrible. The Sox played in 28 games in 2014 that can only be considered slugfests – where both teams scored 5+ runs, so any quality pitching went out the window. That is 4th most in MLB. The average number of games that are lost by each MLB club due to poor pitching/defense is 61. Average number of slugfests, 22. Average number of slugfests won 11. Average number of poor pitching performances that resulted in a loss, net of slugfests won, 50. Average number of times an MLB team loses a game due to their offense 31. Given those averages, and the fact they lost 32 games due to poor offense in 2014 while their pitching lost a net of 57, AFTER you subtract the 15 of 28 slugfests that they won, from the 72 disastrous pitching performances they had, and you have a must focus on pitching mentality. The 28 slugfests, 15 that they won, 13 lost, 392 total runs/28 games, = 14 run average per game between the White Sox vs. whatever opponent. The Focus should be on pitching please. You are going to like Adam LaRoche and Melky Cabrera. The moves are nice so far, and the offense is already there. I think the White Sox will be better than most people think, barring injury of course. Go over the top and get another frugally budgeted starter, and some frugal low budget relief and it will be awesome.

Helicopter
Guest
Helicopter
1 year 5 months ago

I think this is interesting…

Bridgeport Joe
Guest
Bridgeport Joe
1 year 5 months ago

Don’t forget they have Rodon biding time until June. He’ll help one of those two areas (not clear which yet).

Mike D
Guest
Mike D
1 year 5 months ago

“I think the White Sox will be better than most people think, barring injury of course.”

I think this is the problem with the team heading into the season: they have little depth, and not much of a pipeline in the minors save Rodon but he has to resolve his control issues first.

Hank
Guest
Hank
1 year 5 months ago

A high variance starter might be an interesting risk as the guys in the front of the rotation are pretty solid (well as solid as any pitcher can be)

Not a Sox fan, but if I was, I would like to see them maybe take a flier on a guy like Anderson or Morrow. Primarily to start (until they break); though maybe even the pen if they can’t stay healthy.

It would give them a potential upside arm and a little more depth longer term when a guy like Rodon is ready (can also manage his service time).

Bill
Guest
Bill
1 year 5 months ago

Well, there bullpen is still atrocious, unless Petricka and some others markedly improve over last year. SP depth is also a concern.

I do think some of the positional players WAR is lite; just look at Eaton who put up 2.7 WAR in 123games last year, down to 2.2? Seems like injury concerns are playing a large part in lower expectations, but if Eaton plays all year it’s a sure 3.7 to 4.2 WAR. Micah Johnson at 2b is also interesting…

JMK
Guest
JMK
1 year 5 months ago

It’s a “sure 3.7 to 4.2” WAR? If you prorate last season he’s at 3.1, and that’s a season with inflated ball in play data and no obvious candidates for positive regression. He could improve, of course, but he could also get injured again.

Yinka Double Dare
Guest
Yinka Double Dare
1 year 5 months ago

He was more like 4 WAR, without prorating last year, if you split the difference between what UZR and DRS think of his defense.

And frankly, no one will be surprised if he gets hurt again. Guys who play like he does almost always do. I’m guessing there aren’t any big moves coming but a 4th outfielder who 1) is right handed (can play on days against lefty starters with Cabrera to DH and LaRoche to bench) and 2) can passably play some center would probably be smart.

scjohn92
Member
scjohn92
1 year 5 months ago

I think someone like Chris Denorfia would fit in nicely in that role. He can play all three OF positions and would be fairly cheap to sign on a 1 year deal.

Eric
Guest
Eric
1 year 5 months ago

Incidently, of the 72 disastrous pitching performances the White Sox had in 2014, that put them 4th WORST in MLB for 2014, behind the Diamondbacks and Rockies at 76, and the Rangers at 74.

Table
Guest
Table
1 year 5 months ago

Dayan Viciedo for Brad Miller? I’m only half trolling

Dave Cameroon
Guest
Dave Cameroon
1 year 5 months ago

Brad Miller would take at least Chris Sale, probably also a high-upside flyer.

Spit-take
Guest
Spit-take
1 year 5 months ago

You had me at Cameroon. Well done with the rest.

JasonJ
Guest
JasonJ
1 year 5 months ago

Have no affinity for the White Sox whatsoever but I would be really excited right now if I was a Sox fan. Abreu and Sale are fantastic and fun to watch and now they’ve got some really solid pieces to go with them.

The AL is going to be crazy in 2015.

John Daker
Guest
John Daker
1 year 5 months ago

Well, they may not be very good, but they’re still only projected to finish a game behind the Orioles in the standings… given what we know about random variation, I’m inferring that 270+ wins over the next 3 years is a definite possibility

MikeS
Guest
MikeS
1 year 5 months ago

I wholeheartedly agree, but things are looking up in general. In 2013 they were awful, boring, old and expensive. It was clearly going nowhere.

By opening day 2014 all I was interested in was Chris Sale and seeing which of the many new faces (including Abreu) could play.

By the end of 2014 there were still holes in 3/5 of the rotation (specially anyone right handed), the whole bullpen, C, one of 1b/DH, 2b, both corner outfield spots and maybe 3b. Some of those holes looked like they might get filled from in the organization, but years of a bad farm system puts me in the camp of believing a White Sox prospect will be good when I see it.

Now we are still a few months away from the start of the season. They still are full of holes, but they have plugged 1b/DH, LF, half the bullpen and one of the three rotation spots. That’s progress, especially if some of Rodon, Avasail Garcia, Tim Anderson, Micah Johnson and some of the toolsy, athletic outfielders can play, but I’ll still believe it when I see it.

Overall though, this is definitely progress. Although the contracts have been decent sized, the only one that could really be a disaster is Robertson because of the length. My interest in the White Sox has been building from the low it was at in October of 2013 which was the lowest it had been since the late 1980’s.

zeedeevil
Guest
zeedeevil
1 year 5 months ago

I’ll qualify this by admitting I’m an overly optimistic White Sox fan. Even before these additions, I saw a lot of potential with some of the peripheral players. Garcia looked great after stumbling when he returned from injury, and I think the at-bats he gained last year and in the fall league will be incredibly valuable this year. I think there’s still potential for 3B and 2B with Davidson and Johnson (obviously, dependent on spring training).

I’m really high on this team after these moves. The outfield looks a ton better, and the bullpen won’t be a liability in 2015. The value of a guy like Petricka or Webb moving from high pressure situations (closing/set-up) to minor roles will be huge.

It’s kind of remarkable how analysts have been all over the place on this team in the last few weeks. Going from ESPN to CBS back to Fangraphs is making my head spin.

One point I wanted to throw out there – you mentioned in your piece that the White Sox will be hurt by the fact that every AL team is going for it, and then said that every AL East team has improved. Did I read this wrong? You can’t tell me that the Orioles/Rays are in a better position than they were a year ago.

Anyway, look forward to the ChiSox surprising folks this year.

Spit-take
Guest
Spit-take
1 year 5 months ago

The writer meant to say that every A.L. East team is better…

than the White Sox.

Not better than they themselves were in 2014. I misread it myself at first — and at second, actually.

JK
Guest
JK
1 year 5 months ago

I think part of the optimism from Sox fans is that some of these improvements are addressing sink holes, that the team wasn’t necessarily even trying to make good last year. Example, the other part of the 1B/DH equation besides Abreu. They had to endure the last year of Dunn, knew they weren’t competitive so bring back Konerko for a victory lap even though he’s bad. No need to add depth. The result is -1.6 WAR from Dunn/Konerko/Wilkins. If the Sox got a subpar 0.5 WAR from that spot, then LaRoche coming in with a 1.5-2 year is a middling upgrade, but from the dreadful crew they had it represents a 3+ win improvement. Melky had a 2.6 WAR last year, but a 3.3 WAV (wins above Viciedo).

Bridgeport Joe
Guest
Bridgeport Joe
1 year 5 months ago

Yes, ditto Samardzija (+4) and Rienzo/Carroll (-2).

BJG
Guest
BJG
1 year 5 months ago

I’m not going to bother with a WAR-based statistical prediction of the 2015 Sox’s W-L record because the number of moving parts and the uncertainty in each moving part renders such an analysis pointless. Instead, I’ll use the old-school eyeball method and say that 79-85 wins sounds about right to me. In other words, on the outside looking in come October, which is in rough agreement with the author’s prediction. This is a team with a lot of pitching upside, but also a ton of age- and youth-related risk in their lineup.

I don’t get the man-love for Marcus Semien, and this isn’t the only site where I’ve seen it. I watched roughly 100 Sox games last year and was not that impressed. He’s an error machine and his 90 OPS+ was nothing to get excited about. He’s a fine player on a young, rebuilding team that intends to compete a couple of years from now. But he’s a bad fit for the 2015 Sox. It’s too bad that Gordon Beckham is unlikely to fit into the Sox’s plans at this point, as he’s exactly the type of plus-defensive infielder that they need right now.

KK-Swizzle
Guest
KK-Swizzle
1 year 5 months ago

Semien was a well above-average hitter at every stop in the minor leagues, so he projects as solid bat who can hold his own up the middle…nothing sexy, but he’s cheap, young, and good which makes him exceptionally valuable for teams on a tight budget.

Another Brian
Guest
Another Brian
1 year 5 months ago

I think the issue is that minor league stats do not always translate to MLB stats and therefore there is a decent chance Steamer is overstating Semien’s offensive potential. He did not perform great in his first taste of the big leagues. Perhaps he improves, but perhaps he is just a below-average MLB hitter. If that is the case, he is not that valuable and will not be that great of a return for Shark. But everyone here just says that Steamer says he’ll be a 2 WAR player, so great deal. Look at Jackie Bradley’s minor league numbers, they have not yet translated into MLB.

Jorge Fabregas
Guest
Jorge Fabregas
1 year 5 months ago

For what it is worth (SSS so it may not be worth much), he did not have much more than one month at AAA when he was first called up to the majors. When he was sent down in his second year (2014) the stats suggest that he adjusted to AAA and when he was recalled in September he hit quite well (129 RC+) and cut his strikeout rate almost by half. Even with his poor defense, he was worth roughly half of a win in September.

BJG
Guest
BJG
1 year 5 months ago

Yeah, it’s really too bad that Semien’s defense was so weak last year. That really killed his value from the Sox’s perspective, as they need a glove at 2B right now more than a bat in the #9 spot. Even someone like Darwin Barney, who can’t hit and probably never will, would be a decent 1-2 year fit for the Sox right now.

KK-Swizzle
Guest
1 year 5 months ago

The Sox fans are coming out in force for this one! This comments section was a fun read, and a big thanks for keeping things relatively civil apart from a successful troller here and there :)

CabreraDeath
Member
CabreraDeath
1 year 5 months ago

I’m still trying to comprehend a world where Zach Duke and Robertson are mentioned in the same sentence as being pillars of the bullpen. Duke made some mechanical adjustments, I concede. But, still, it’s been one year of success. The ChiSox overpaid for his services. Still no reason to think he’s completely changed from missing zero bats to a bunch of bats.

CD

Ozzie Guillen
Guest
Ozzie Guillen
1 year 5 months ago

Were you ever planning to address how one of the best right relievers in the baseball over the past 4 years is not a pillar in the bullpen? Or does Robertson get glossed over for idea that $5M a year for Duke would be worthy of throwing an “overpaid” tag on him, when we just saw Gregerson and Neshek get higher AAV’s?

Spit-take
Guest
Spit-take
1 year 5 months ago

Zach’s only been a reliever for two seasons, only one *full* MLB season in fact, so it’s pretty hard to gauge what he will or won’t do, going forward.

I was never a big fan of his as a starter, but with the shift to sliders/cutters and away from changeups, he’s certainly looking grand so far as a bullpenner. Fine signing, I’d say.

Fandango
Guest
Fandango
1 year 5 months ago

Fan-DAN-go

Pottsy
Guest
Pottsy
1 year 5 months ago

mcdonalds is looking for their fry cook to come back to work! Just go back man cuz your not cut out for this writing thing!

Derb
Guest
Derb
1 year 5 months ago

Even if they don’t compete for the division (I think they have a pretty good chance to do so), they will take wins away from the Tigers, Royals, and Indians. In a division that was decided by 1 game in 2014, that’s huge.

bill
Guest
bill
1 year 5 months ago

The sox blew 21 saves last year. Robertson blew 5. So lets say that mean s the sox will gain 10 wins(conservative estimate). That would put them at 83. Add samarjdza,melky,duke,and laroche to replace a morbid adam dunn and id say that puts them close to 90

TM
Guest
TM
1 year 5 months ago

You have no idea what you’re talking about.

me
Guest
me
1 year 5 months ago

No, you don’t understand. They have Samarjdza.

Bpdelia
Guest
Bpdelia
1 year 4 months ago

Blown saves are mostly accumulated by set up and middle relievers

Now hypothetically using duke and Robertson now push late inning relievers to mid innings and mid innings to off the roster yes this should have a snow ball effect but you can’t just count blown saves like that.

However taking a disastrous bullpen to a great bullpen is a nice, fast and relatively cheap way to improve a team quite a bit.

As a Yankees fan one thing i can say they’ve done very well is build a ludicrous stock pile of hard throwing relief prospects.

College relievers have been a real boon for them in the draft.

Got off track there but while the sox did really improve the bullpen it’s still not a great bullpen. It’s more an average bullpen. And certainly not enough to take them to a 90 win team.

Funny this has caused so much discussion because they seem like a team that will be around five hundred unless things go all crazy.

PCI
Guest
PCI
1 year 5 months ago

I suppose this article is a dose of reality for Sox fans. Certainly the Dec. headlines get fans caught up in the transactions as if all their teams will be contenders. That said, there seems to be a lot of AL parity and the Sox certainly would be in the mix for a wild card playoff spot. The ALC was plus-four last season and might improve on that in 2015. As for the Sox lineup, the only dreaming involved is that Garcia will step it up offensively. They probably can tolerate Flowers, Gillaspie and Sanchez if the rest of the lineup produces. I would have preferred Sierra stuck around as 4th OF though.

Bob
Member
Bob
1 year 5 months ago

Sorry this is so long. I am almost 50. I appreciate the world series, I really do, but this off season the White Sox drove the final nail in my heart.

Great article, a different perspective than I had but after reading maybe I am sold. I was born, raised, and still live on the south side. I grew up a Sox fan, but over time I fell in love with the game itself, and how sabermetrics relates to it. I now love good baseball, and good baseball management, which is why I keep a very close eye on the Cubs. I am not a fair weathered Sox fan, I am just not a fan of them period. There is something of an anti-White Sox current that runs between me and the team. It starts with Reinsdorf, runs through Kenny Williams, is amplified ten times through the soul sucking transformer that is Hawk Harrelson, and then explodes when I hear the occasional racist chant in the outfield.

I don’t see an added 9 WAR projection as being reasonable, but if it is it still goes nowhere. The only high quality pick up I truly believe is Samardzija. The rest, for lack of a better phrase, seem more like the best pieces of steak and twice baked potatoes at the top of the Gibson’s steak house dumpster on a Tuesday night. High priced, yes, LaRoche brings a fat wallet. I just don’t see him at a 3+ War now that he is 35. Quality? Robertson was good, I suppose, but so was Bobby Jenks. I think this year Robertson may add 0.8 more Wins Above a Replacement player than Jenks would if they could sign him, and think about the uptick in concessions with all the hot dogs and beer Jenks would buy.

The problem is much bigger than this influx of names could ever potentially change. With a second wild card team, and success in the World Series by wild card teams, I firmly believe in shoring up a team that did not do well last season but won more than 72 games to take aim at a wild card. Prior to the second wild card I would say if we couldn’t win 80 we can’t win 90 so forget it. Either we do a complete overhaul or conserve cash next season.

The real problem the Sox have is that they were paper “champions” in 2014, not real champions using my 72 win scale. On paper their record was 73-89, just above my 73 win, why not spend some money and see what happens scale. Pythagorean wise the Sox won no more than 71 games, and while that seems like a petty difference my 72 win theory is based upon a lot of WAR math I did when I was trying to figure out the salary impact of a second wild card team a couple of years ago. I think even Pythagoras would say math can’t account for everything, and I don’t see the intangibles that lead me to believe they should have won 70 games in 2014.

Local radio is basically in favor, saying that this is the type of effort we needed, this will put people in seats again. Maybe, until mid July, when the team is 4 games below .500 and people realize you can’t make a silk pennant banner out of a sow’s ear.

If they wanted to buy my loyalty a complete shift in thinking was needed. First, fire Harrelson. Not for baseball reasons, but sheer principle. A public firing too. Tell him we are giving you an award, and berate him for his ignorance on sabermetrics, color broadcasting analysis, the rules of baseball, umpiring, and his overall chimpish lack of humanity. Then, a back to basics, lets go out and trade anyone we can but Sale and build a minor league system that we can draft into for the next three years, and then put together a package that people want to see play every day, even in September. This series of spending deals will give ownership another reason to cry that the fans don’t support them. Another excuse.

Matt
Guest
Matt
1 year 5 months ago

Trade anyone but Sale? Like Abreu and Quintana? Don’t be so on crack.

Hahn’s making smart moves.. you act like it’s Jaime Navarro and Todd Ritchie all over again

BJG
Guest
BJG
1 year 5 months ago

You “love good baseball” and “keep a close eye on the Cubs”? That doesn’t make any sense.

Arrow of zings
Guest
Arrow of zings
1 year 5 months ago

ZING

Eminor3rd
Member
Eminor3rd
1 year 5 months ago

All your suggestions are emotional.

isavage30
Guest
isavage30
1 year 5 months ago

The biggest problem for the White Sox right now is that their pitching staff is thin, especially compared to some of their competition. As it stands now, the top 3 might be the best in the division. But Cleveland’s 4-7, Bauer, House, Tomlin, McAllister, all look to be significantly better than Chicago’s 4-5 starters, and their 1-3 is comparable to Chicago. Detroit’s staff in its current configuration doesn’t look better than Chicago’s, and they also don’t have much depth there, but their offense looks significantly better than the White Sox.

Pretty much would agree with this article, and the projections. Chicago is at least now in a position where it’s conceivable that they contend, which is nothing to sneeze at. Like KC last year, if a lot of guys perform at the upper end of their abilities, they might make it. But hard to argue that, on paper, right now, Chicago looks significantly worse than Detroit and Cleveland.

isavage30
Guest
isavage30
1 year 5 months ago

meant “hard to argue that the Tigers don’t look significantly worse than …”

BJG
Guest
BJG
1 year 5 months ago

“The biggest problem for the White Sox right now is that their pitching staff is thin, ”

Noesi is the Wild Card here. He got significantly better over the course of the season, and ended up with an ERA+ of 88. Not bad for a #5. If he can simply repeat that performance this coming year, the Sox have a very solid rotation, regardless of what Danks does.

Howie Porker
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Howie Porker
1 year 5 months ago

I’d like to point out that the White Sox have Babe Ruth 2.0 and Randy Johnson 2.0 plus 4-5 other probable All-Stars. And now they seem to be patching the glaring holes.

It’s understandable why the White Sox fans think this article needs to zoom out and look at the bigger picture. I could see this team winning 100 games and pundits wondering wtf went wrong with their computers this winter.

Sinnycal
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Sinnycal
1 year 5 months ago

You think the Sox have 7 All-Stars?

Jason B
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Jason B
1 year 5 months ago

100 games! I’ll take the “under” on that for any amount you’d like.

ANY AMOUNT.

PDX Bryan
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PDX Bryan
1 year 5 months ago

I really enjoyed reading these comments thus far, thank you in advance for keeping it baseball-relevant with minimal variations.

So far I can think of two intangibles that these metrics fail to point out (unless they do, admittedly I’m a greenhorn when it comes to these projections)… The first being Don Cooper and his efforts to date in Noesi, Quintana, etc. Second would be what the sum of these additions does collectively to the lineup. With a legit #2 now and a cleanup hitter not named Adam Dunn, I can’t help but believe the lineup as a whole will benefit immensely. I don’t think the WAR projections (or the likewise) takes that into account.

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