For the past few days the White Sox have gone through a torturous road trip that all but killed their post-season hopes. As a result, GM Kenny Williams traded a few of his veterans and now the team fades slowly into irrelevance.
Naturally, the next step is to try and make sense of what went wrong up until this point and what better way to do it than with a nice piece of pie. Nick, our master pastry chef, baked this White Sox WAR pie, which tells me a few things:
>> The team relied too much on offensive contributions from players like Gordon Beckham, Jason Nix, and Scott Podsednik. These are guys that never figured in the team’s pre-season plans and were, let’s be honest, overachieving quite a bit.
>> As Nick told me when he baked the pie,
the White Sox have only gotten 9.7 WAR out of their hitters – 2nd worst in the AL, after only the Royals.
BUT, they have gotten 18.5 WAR out of their pitchers, 2nd best in the AL behind only the Red Sox!
In other words, they are the anti-Phillies. The Giants of the AL. All pitching and no offense.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about baseball, it’s the idea that if your team is constantly playing low-scoring affairs up until the late innings, your pitching will not hold up. So Nick’s last point was certainly evident during their last few games against the Red Sox and Yankees lineups, where they held on to a tie or a slim lead up until the very last at bat. Here’s the pitching vs. offense pie:
>> A bittersweet surprise has been A.J. Pierzynski. I noticed a few weeks ago that he was quietly posting some good offensive numbers, and as his big chunk of pie suggests, he’s the best offensive player on the team. Too bad it’ll be for naught as I doubt he’ll be able to replicate his numbers next year.
>> An unexpected surprise was Alexei Ramirez. Even though he’s posted weaker numbers this year through roughly the same number of at bats than he had last year, his individual WAR is higher than last year’s value.
Knowing now that the White Sox relied too heavily on pitching, it’s no surprising the bottom fell out. The issue is, however, the very little offense they got came from players that have traditionally been mediocre (Podsednik) or are barely in the bigs (Nix, Beckham); and now that Jim Thome is no longer with the team, and Jermaine Dye is a free agent at the end of the year, there’s no question Kenny Williams will have a tough time putting together as potent a line-up as this White Sox once had.