Attending Thursday’s White Sox home opener was just a cornucopia of emotions. I was so happy to enjoy a half hearted version of the normal pre-game ritual enjoying some drinks with Chorizyand my oldest friend Polish w Extra Onions. Breaking each other’s balls and talking about the White Sox as we are known to do. Actually strolling up to the ballpark and seeing the field over the concourse for the first time in 18 months was actually less exhilarating than I thought it would be. However, saying hi, fist bumping and providing the occasionally, fully masked up hug to a few was what really had me feeling like things are somewhat back to normal.
Friday’s off-day has drawn me ever so closer to feeling like things will get back to normal with me getting plunger #2 of the Pfizer elixir. I’m currently sitting on my couch awaiting the hang-over symptoms that I hope never arrive.
In that vain AND the fact that we have a rain out to give us extra time to savor Lance Lynn‘s complete game shutout Opening Day performance, as well as some precious hours to think about the White Sox, before I’m running through your questions in tomorrow’s Sunday Soak. I thought I could bring you a few things that have caught my eyes early on in 2021.
The Super Bullpen
Early on in the season one of the big story line has been the White Sox much hyped bullpen. National pundits and local wannabe pundits alike were crowning this the best bullpen EVAR!!! It was kind of funny. I took a bit of a look at this phenomenon HERE. I think despite the noisiness of the SUPER BULLPEN giving up the booty a little too much in the early season, they are actually performing pretty well by one statistic.
K% – BB%
The screen grab below is from Fangraphs.com. Go there, use their website and support them with money like the BeefLoaf does so we can have all these easy to use stats at our finger tips.
The White Sox bullpen is currently 6th in K%-BB% at 18.4%. This is very good. Small sample sizes be damned, the White Sox did face at least one good offense for 4 of their 8 games so far. A K%-BB% like this would be top 4 in both 2020 and 2019.
A little deeper look shows that it is our young studs raising up the group as a whole. The blonde haired Adonis from Texas, Michael Kopech crushing the opposition, while our own John Holmes look alike Garrett Crochet showing that he’s no slouch either. The decision to jettison both of these young lanzadores to the bullpen was much maligned in the off-season, but the early returns have been fantastic!!
The White Sox had a good offense in 2020. That 2020 offense had a few glaring holes. They were blech against RHP, they struck out too much and they didn’t walk enough. Well, at least one of those things is repairing itself in the early going.
The screenshot below is from the aforementioned Fangraphs.com. Love them and support them like you would your local brothel.
Dats right, the 2021 White Sox are 2nd in walk rate at a very strong 12.7%. Some of that is obviously inflammed by Justin Dunn deciding that he needed to give out free passes on Wednesday the way Thornton Melon would give out pens at a lecture. That’s a drastic early season improvement from the 7.9% and 24th rank of the 2020 offense.
Yasmani Grandal has the most eye-poppingest numbers of the group, for sure. However there seems to be a general patience even amongst swing happy batters like Jose Abreu and Nick Madrigal. I’m curious to see how this evens out when the White Sox aren’t against whatever it was that the Mariners were trotting out there on the mound. Also, it will be more predictive when Tim Anderson is taking a higher chunk of these plate appearances. Either way, that’s a very strong start.
You knew this was coming. The Defense has been as we might say, ungood. You see it, I see it. The numbers see it. Below is a table from Baseball Reference. Support them like you would your local coffee shop.
The table above denotes Defensive Efficiency, which is basically just BABIP for the defense. It roughly takes the total amount of balls in play (obviously excluding home runs, because those are really out of play) and calculates the % of outs a team is getting from those. The White Sox, as your eye test would already tell you, fucking suck at it this year, so far. Now, some of that could be that they are putting a 1st base prospect in LF, their regular shortstop has barely played and possibly some more aging defenders are regressing more. Maybe a bunch of this will be remedied by the return of Adam Engel. Or possibly, Mike Petriello’s tweet below might hold some of the answers.
For those that are blocked by Mike and can’t read the tweet, the 2020 White Sox shifted 30.1% of the time (leading to a 3rd best in the majors .712 Defensive Efficiency %), while the 2021 White Sox are only shifting on defense 9.7% of the time. Remember, the only goal is converting batted balls into outs, which is why I chose the very simple metric above. It will be interesting to see if this trend changes or how the White Sox fare the rest of the season with the leather.
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