The White Sox OF Defense – Part I

The 2022 White Sox season was almost as disappointing as the time Chorizy-E and I saw Blink 182 at that festival and them throwing their instruments down the stairs would’ve been a better show. The manager, the injuries, the lack of home runs all stung like citrus fruit juice landing in that annoying 3rd period paper cut. However, nothing was more of a day-to-day irritant than the White Sox defense. Just watching them do stupid thing after stupid thing, day after day. I remember at one point in the season thinking that I would see them drop a cut off throw EVERY DAY until the season concluded. Your daily eye test = the underlying statistics.

2022 Team Defense by Outs Above Average. Table cut from Baseball Savant

The table above, basically bares out your eye-ball observations. The White Sox were one of the worst defensive teams in baseball by Outs Above Average. This metric aims to tell you how much better or worse than average your team / player is, based on outs (catch probability). Our heroes finished a brutal 24th in the majors by this metric. The top of the list is very interesting with the leader by a good margin, the Diamondbacks, not sniffing the playoffs. Then 9 of the next 10 teams were all playoff teams. The lowly Tigers being the only outlier (probably makes A.J. Hinch stans happy).

The White Sox Outfield Defense Sucked

Also, as you probably noticed, the White Sox outfield was a healthy slice of this deficiency. The table below will allow those pesky stat nerds some comfort that they agree with your daily observations.

Table Cut from Baseball Savant

That’s right, the White Sox, based on strictly Outfield Defense, come in at 27th in the majors but OAA. Wildly the NL Champion Phillies clock in behind them at 29th. The exception to the rule if you will. The rest of the bottom ten are materially teams outside of the playoff pictures (Hi Braves!). This problem plagued the White Sox all year, whether it was a sedentary Andrew Vaughn basically never getting there in time. Or the formerly reliable Adam Engel just dropping random fly balls in Baltimore, it never felt like something this team could get out of the way of itself.

Zeroing in closer, we get a clearer read on the specific problem of this much maligned group.

Table cut from Baseball Savant

At a surface level, it would seem that the White Sox were absolutely fine in Center Field, clocking in at 7 OAA. Now to the eye-balls this might have you feeling slightly off-balance, as you know Luis Robert wasn’t his normal gold glove caliber self and Adam Engel has clearly lost a step. On balance though, they held down the position just fine. The real needle movers in this equation are the corner outfield spots.

Left Field all-in was -11 OAA. This tracks with general observations, as even the most ardent Andrew Vaughn is fine in left field supporter has been converted to, they should burn his glove in a cleansing ritual prior to the season.

Gavin Sheets and his supple buttocks

More surprising was how damn bad Right Field was at a shocking -13 OAA. I know Andrew Vaughn spent time there, but it appears Gavin Sheets was doing a bit more damage than we thought while admiring his supple buttocks from our perch in the right field corner seats known as Section 108.

Gimme the UGLY by Player Stats

You got it loyal 108 blog reader, below is a sheet cutting the gory truth about each individual players contribution to this Chinese Democracy level disaster.

Table cut from Baseball Savant

That’s pretty ugly. You knew about Andrew Vaughn. I look back and laugh about the arguments we had pitting Vaughn vs Eloy in the outfield and still chuckle at people who thought Vaughn was better. From a baseball standpoint this argument is plenty clear now. ADVANTAGE ELOY. Unfortunately, the real downside of either playing the outfield is skewed, Vaughn just tends to get old man tired. ALLEGEDLY. While Eloy, on the mild end can get caught in the spider webs and on the more extreme end, rip off his titty trying to rob a home run. Both should probably spend most of their time NOT grazing like a free range chicken.

Gavin Sheets was also pretty bleak in the outfield, but that was to be expected. AJ Pollock being bad defensively was a disappointing but realistic cap on the Nick Madrigal era. Adam Engel and Luis Robert both being above average, but below our personal expectations of them in Center Field, is in line with all things 2022 White Sox. Lastly, y’all owe my man Leury Garcia an apology. It may have only been 128 innings, but this mans did contribute to the positive side of the ledger here (doesn’t off-set his near bottomless negative offensive performance).

What Next?

Picture by Sam Greene

I don’t know about you, but watching the 2022 White Sox, you had to wonder if they couldn’t have at least been coached up to be a little better. Daryl Boston, pictured above is ALLEGEDLY in charge of the outfield defense, a position he’s been in for a long time. I can’t remember an outfielder growing substantially in defensive prowess under his watch.

However, this level of ineptitude seems to point more at the player personnel side of the equation. Realistically, how good can you make a bunch of First Basemen, Utility Infielders, or 35 and past their prime Outfielders. I still wouldn’t give DBo a glowing performance review, but it would seem there is a bit more to this than some extra fungos on their off days.

In part II of this blog (COMING SOON), I will go into some detailed potential solutions and think deeply about how we got here and why the White Sox outfield defense was allowed to get so terrible.



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