I have to admit, the title is blatant stealing from one of the great baseball writers (in my humble opinion) of our time, Joe Sheehan.It’s not just the concise and accessible analysis that he has provided us readers for a good two decades. But also the catch phrases that are as sticky as a Chappelle’s Show comedy bit and convey a powerful message. The White Sox, likely in this playoffs, but definitely in the ALDS are Team “Ball Go Far, Team Go Far”….let me show you why.
As Chorizy mentioned in his thorough and at times robust preview of the Astros pitching staff in our most recent FromThe108 podcast, the Astros would love for you to pound the baseball directly into the ground. They are number one with a bullet (that’s a shitty lyric from a mid-2000’s rock song isn’t it?) in GB% in the AL as a pitching staff.
In addition to the Astros pitching staff loving opposing hitters to hit grounders, as Chorizy and I mention in the podcast, the White Sox hitters fucking love hitting groundballs. LOVE IT!
Only the Rangers that were scarcely trying this year and had half a major league roster hit more groundballs than the White Sox in the American League. Ugh. Oh, you thought that was bad, just wait, it gets worse. The Astros it turns out are a terrific defensive team. Like not bad, but like really good.
The chart above notes how the AL teams rate by Defensive Runs Saved, which was created by John Dewanand his crew that produce the Fielding Bible. As you can see the Astros are number 2 behind the no hit and no pitch Rangers. Don’t look at the White Sox rating, we are choosing to ignore that for this analysis.
WAIT, THERE’S MORE!!
The Astros are first by Baseball Reference’s measure of Defensive Efficiency. This all adds up to the fact that the Astros want opposing hitters to hit groundballs and then once they do hit them, the Astros are likely going to turn those into outs. Yep, fuck me. That sounds bad.
Okay, well this doesn’t sound great, but what is our saving grace? You guessed it!!!
WHO ARE THE WHITE SOX, BALL GO FAR, TEAM GO FAR SAVIORS FOR THIS ALDS??
I thought it might be a worthwhile exercise to see what White Sox go out of their way to not hit groundballs. Maybe those are the potential heroes of a White Sox series victory against those no good, cheatin’ Astros. Below is a table from Fangraphs with 2021 GB%, minimum 200 PA’s….let’s see who defies the Astros strategy.
The first two on your list are a likely seldom used back-up catcher in Zack Collins and currently injured, but still possibly making the 26 man playoff roster, Brian Goodwin. If you were looking for unlikely heroes for this series, those might be your choices. However, we gotta get to that point first.
Luis Robert is the most adverse to hitting groundballs this season of all of the regulars. Which makes him as fine of a candidate to lift an epic home run or two that catapults our White Sox to victory. A compounding effect to his non-groundballiness and why I’d take him over Yasmani Grandal is that Robert isn’t particularly patient. Robert is in effect a free swinger that hits the ball with authority.
Yasmani Grandal might overall be the best weapon versus this Astros squad as they are willing to give up a walk occasionally and you know my man’s is all over that. But Robert hitting high up in the lineup, swinging lots (at mostly strikes) and hitting the ball a ton, but not on the ground, probably gives the White Sox their best chance to thwart the Astros efforts of groundballing us to death.