Reliving the 2017 Season: Chicago White Sox Edition | The Process Report

Reliving the 2017 Season: Chicago White Sox Edition

With the end of the regular season comes a time for reflection for the majority of baseball fans. What went right? What went wrong? You probably have a few ideas where your teams fell short or exceeded expectations, but what about a completely emotionless point of view? Throughout this season I have shown what batter and pitcher production looks like when we regress balls in play to look more like what the players should have seen using exit velocity and launch angle. The offseason will be no different as I take a team by team look at how the season fared for the team, while going a little deeper on a handful of players from each team. The order will mirror next June’s draft slotting so you can expect to find some depression leading to elation here. It’s going to take some time, but I would like to get two to three of these out each week which should allow for every team being covered before our glorious game returns to continue threshing our hearts.


Like many of the teams reviewed thus far the beginning of the season for the White Sox showed a much more competitive team than the final product. Teams in this position do well to trade low-value, short-term pieces to get others that will be around longer, and hopefully turn into something useful. Few teams capitalized on this as heavily as the White Sox and it came from both the hitters and pitchers on the club. Early on you can see they weren’t world beaters or anything, but they were respectfully around the average. Then the bats started to fall off over nearly the entirety of the season. Their actual production masked some of the worst times, but this was a bad offense for the majority of the season.

The pitching was quite a bit better, but still worse than average. There was a very rough patch early, and then a longer sustained bad stretch in the middle, but once they called upon the kids down the stretch you can see some of their best performance on the season. This has to leave White Sox fans with a bit of a good taste in their mouth as sights turn toward next year. Few teams are doing as well in their rebuild process than the White Sox even if 2017 looks like a write off.

Boiling the season down to aggregated numbers you can see a pitching staff that walks or hits farrrr too many batters. They didn’t make up for all that inefficiency by striking guys out, either, as they were a good bit below league average. However, they did fairly well at suppressing hard contact on balls in play as their expected production was a good bit below the league average and nearly identical to what they actually allowed. Add it all up and I saw them around 44 runs worse than average.

Switching to the bats you see pretty much the opposite as they walked too few, struck out too often, while producing much worse than average on balls in play. There was a fairly large overperformance on their balls in play making it a little easier to see their offense through rose-colored glasses, but they were bad. Nearly 124 runs worse than average. Though they had some bright spots.

Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia are a fine offensive base who are fairly similar at the plate doing the things that typically lead to success. They’ll both, presumably, be back next year, but then we see why the offense fell off so much as the season went along. Todd Frazier and Melky Cabrera both took their good bats elsewhere leaving gaping holes in a lineup that was ill-suited to replace them in-house. One of the beneficiaries to the opened up playing time was Yoan Moncada who hits the figurative piss out of the ball while walking a bunch to boot. The strikeouts will probably always be there, but if their impact can be lessened then you could see a young player start to climb the ranks. Then you find a bunch of glove-first guys that have little business playing everyday in a lineup. This is where the team has the best chance to improve their success going forward.

Sure, he is relegated to first base, but someone has to play there, and you can do a lot worse than Jose Abreu. His exceptional start marked what would be his peak performance this year, but he was nearly always a better than average offensive producer. Pundits will surely be demanding the team move him for future assets, but I would at least kick the tires on extending the player out a couple of years at mutually beneficial rates as a middle of the order bat like this just doesn’t grow on trees.

In his breakout year Avisail Garcia showed why so many folks had (completely unfairly) compared him to Miguel Cabrera as he grew up on the Tigers farm. The mid-season injury dampened the performance, but you can see the bookends offer very strong production even if he gives a little back with the mitt. With similar team control to the aforementioned Abreu I would consider an extension here, as well.

His sophomore season left a lot to be desired out of the speedy Tim Anderson. He approached league average performance at times, but that prolonged slump in the middle of the season served to depress his full season numbers. He pulled out of it to become a little worse than average over the end of the season, and much like his already listed teammates, he saw an enormous overperformance on balls in play to end the season. He’s not that good, but settling in as a little worse than average while playing mostly competent shortstop leaves the team with an interesting wild card going forward. Walking ever would help mitigate some of the worst aspects of his slumps, and get him on base more often where his wheels are a weapon. His contact profile shows a lot to be desired so the hope has to be that his discipline can improve enough to get him where he needs to be if he wants to remain an everyday player.

At the top of the pitcher list you will see that the first four guys were all traded in-season. This transition period left a depleted bullpen and took away their best starter so in some respects the fairly solid close to the season was nice to see. Guys like Lucas Giolito and Carlos Rodon proved reliable in the small parts of the season that they performed, though Rodon’s injury history is probably something that isn’t going away. Then we get to the bottom of the list where you see a plethora of guys you would not want on your team. This is probably the biggest area for improvement, and a place where they have some new rounds ready to be racked.

In his brief stint we can see that Giolito was about the best you could hope for. He started out extremely well before teams had much of an idea of his skillset. The league adjusted with his worst performance being a good bit worse than average, but he buckled down to close the season as basically a league average pitcher as a rookie. He benefited from some fortune on balls in play, but even upon regression he looks capable of managing contact. Pair that with his nearly league average walk and strikeout ratios and you can see why he looks like a solid building block going forward.

Reynaldo Lopez looks like more of the same. His initial dive into the pool was met with frigid waters, but he stayed in, acclimated and looks better for it. Much like Giolito, it looks like the team has found another pony for the stable. His strikeout rates could use a solid nudge upward, but he draws weaker than average contact and does well to avoid the walk, for the most part. For a team that showed too many awful starting pitchers with far too much rope it has to be nice to see some promise on the horizon.

Rays fans will always associate James (or Jamie, as we knew him) Shields with the best years in their franchise’s history. The White Sox, and Padres before them, would beg to differ. However, Shields showed massive underperformance early in the season. He was worse than average, but not nearly the candidate for worst pitcher in the league that he has sometimes drawn. Shields is no longer a top of the rotation guy, but if he can soak up innings while continuing to be more like below average rather than horrifically bad he will have a role in Chicago next year.


With several teams now behind us we can begin to look at leaderboards to get an idea of context for the already reviewed teams. Below you will find the top and bottom twenty pitchers and batters:





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