Competitive Advantage – WHITE SOX
October 17, 2017
Howdy friends, it’s your pal BeefLoaf, enjoying the MLB playoffs and thinking about our White Sox. Today I want to talk about “Competitive Advantage“, for those curious, the definition of this term from Dictionary.com is as follows a condition or circumstance that puts a company in a favorable or superior business position.
As I scan this here MLB playoffs or even think back about the good teams of the last decade or so, it got me wondering. What will the White Sox competitive advantage be when they are back in contention? Over the last several years, you have seen teams that make the playoffs multiple times take advantage of various things that made them successful. Rays and Pirates of recent playoff vintage both took advantage of undervalued defensive players and methods of measuring defense, shifting on defense and utilizing their pitchers to deploy that defense. Dodgers and Cubs took advantage of the fact that there is no luxury tax partaining to the front office and loaded theirs with several folks who would be GM’s spread across the league. The Red Sox took advantage of the international player pool, even getting themselves in a wee bit of trouble along the way in doing so……etc, etc.
Now the first answer that rolls off the tongue for most learned White Sox fans will be that Don Cooper and Herm Schneider are the White Sox competitive advantage, and maybe they were for the last excellent White Sox teams, the 2005-2008 group. But truth be told, most teams are spending buckets of money on research into this stuff, in fact the Cubs right across town appear to have gotten as good as our guys at keeping their starting pitchers healthy with a mix of diet, mental health coaching and alternative workout routines (pilates, yoga, etc). Even the Dodgers decided, fuck health! We’ll just sign as many injury prone starting pitchers as we can, since they aren’t too expensive and we’ll play games with the 10 day DL so we can basically have Kershaw + an additional 7 man rotation where the rested/healthiest guys always pitch. Nope, the White Sox are going to have to figure out a different competitive advantage and you can bet your ass someone will write a book about it well after it is done…..Here’s a few ideas, fresh from a soak in the hot tub…..
For those of you that just recently enjoyed the Vince Coleman era of base runner instruction, you are probably like “ROFLMFAO” about this potentially being an advantage. I had a vision from the home season finale in which Tim Anderson scored from first base on a Rymer Liriano single for the deciding run and was reminded that Anderson was also pretty excellent stealing bases this year. Upon further inspection, 3 of the White Sox young players happen to be plus base runners in 2017 (Anderson, Moncada and Avisail Garcia) with a fourth young player who might not figure into the future mix, Adam Engel being the best of the group. Even the players they have been drafting / acquiring via trade seem to have enough athleticism to potentially fit in this group. Even the pudgy Jake Burger (Chorizy-E’s guy) is supposedly a pretty good runner for a fat guy. It is probably hard to make Base Running your Competitive Advantage, its like saying “the reason to go to this restaurant is the Lobster Bisque”…….nothing against Lobster Bisque, it has the potential to be great, but if the rest of the meal isn’t legit, then I’m not dragging my ass there.
The Royals and Giants of recent vintage as well as the current Astros are utilizing this to their advantage, making more contact, ie striking out less than the rest. I am on the fence if this is actually their mode, as even though they are drafting and acquiring players with lower strike out rates than their power profiles, the White Sox have two key players that strike out prodigiously (Moncada and Anderson). It may just be a risk mitigation tactic to draft gobs of players that don’t strike out as much to offset these two (as well as some other risk minor league profiles), but the fact that it has worked very well over the last ~10 years or so does seem to lay some credence to it.
What Say You? Got some thoughts on the White Sox competitive advantage? Hit me up on the Twitter machine.