FanPost

Bizarro World (An August White Sox Review)

From Wiki:

In the Bizarro world of "Htrae" ("Earth" spelled backwards), society is ruled by the Bizarro Code which states "Us do opposite of all Earthly things! Us hate beauty! Us love ugliness! Is big crime to make anything perfect on Bizarro World!"

Try this one on for size. The White Sox led the majors  AL in runs for the month of August. Like the sound of that? I do. Haven't heard that in awhile.  Normally such info would cause even Mayor Daley to run through the streets of Chicago naked but not today because in Bizarro world you can't have one odd reality without another. So instead of teaming that offense with the kick ass pitching we'd grown to love. Bizarro demands a slide from the starters and an implosion by a very good bullpen. Bizarro demands a team winning 1 run games to go 2-9 in them including 7 straight. That's how you end a month with + 20 run differential but a below .500 record. SSS aint it a bitch? (thanks Colin)

The Sox came into the month clinging to a .5 game lead of the charging Twins. The month started out fine by winning 3 of 4 in Detroit. Hurray. A reeling Tigers team was left for dead and the Sox were headed to Baltimore.

We now take an intermission for a rant.....

DH - This has become an especially cranky topic for me. No not because I'm late to get on the bus but because there are still folks out there defending or poo pooing the Jim Thome issue. Recently I got into a debate with Sox host Chris Rongey and my blood begin to boil by the end of the conversation. Highlights from Rongey:

In reference to the Sox early offensive struggles.
"It was not a colossal mistake to not sign Thome because what's the difference between 6 automatic outs vs 7?" (hmmm maybe a win or two)

"Look if the Sox had Jim Thome they would be in the exact same spot as today." (oh boy)

"You don't sign a player to keep him from your rival." (okay how about just because he's a good cheap player?)

"People want to harp on Thome but the fact is this team had 2 of its worst years while he was on the team." (and we're done.)

I don't mean to pick on Chris. He seems like a nice enough guy. But a large part of this thinking is just plain stupid and that's even if you didn't want him back. To not acknowledge the impact of Thome for the Twins and missing from the Sox early this season is about as mathematically challenged as I care to insult someone. Jim at Sox Machine addressed this a lot more elegantly than I ever could and he has a blog that wanted Thome "before" the season.

Anyway I hear the Sox finally addressed their DH problem......

Back to Bizarro world. 

The offense disappeared in Baltimore and in a deja vu story repeated more than a few times they would either not score enough (8 times 2 runs or less) or blow a late inning lead. Linebrink aka human torch, would end up with the same number of wins as starters Danks and Garcia, one. When the smoke cleared the lead was now a 4 game deficit and honestly we should be thankful its just that.

Hey doesn't Bizarro World demand some late season come back or something?

RS 630

RA 555

72-60

2009 (64-69 603 RS/615 RA)

As you can see last year's team was in full swoon mode and 7 games out behind 2 teams. By the way, Minnesota was 3.5 out at this time last year (just saying....). At this point odds are not in their favor. BP's PECOTA and ELO odds give the White Sox roughly an 11% chance. It will probably go up a bit when Manny is factored in but not much. This town needs some help.

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Offensive

YTD

.271/.334/.430  wOBA .335/ 49 wRAA (4th in AL)

August

.298/.354/.460 wOBA .354 29 wRAA (1st in AL)

Wow talk about a kick. The second consecutive great month has moved the overall numbers to an above average offense. No I didn't stutter. The White Sox have scored some runs though they are still prone to the occasional complete shut down. 8 times scoring 2 runs or less. Perhaps that is nitpicking, but I just want to see the consistency. 

1B- Konerko  .320/.400/.583 wOBA .417 What a fantastic year. Hard not to want him back. Seems not long ago we were arguing whether he'd ever have a 900 ops year again and his value vs Casey Kotchman. Now he's a legit MVP candidate.

2B- Beckham .257/.320/.391 wOBA .311 Had the hand scare. Whew. But continued his torrid 2nd half .965 OPS since the break.

SS- Alexei .285/.313/.435 wOBA .321 August was a blah month but solid. Continues march to 4 WAR.

3B- Omar .285/..354/.337 wOBA .312 Regression hit some but actually improved his OBP. Hey Dayan walks are nice!

LF- Pierre ..284/.352/.326 wOBA.320 Would you believe Juan OPSed .850 in August?

CF- Rios. .293/.341/.473 wOBA .353 Rios continued his slow slide until a late month surge. Lets hope he's back,

RF- Q! .237/.333/.478 wOBA .351 The H/A splits are worrisome. In fact when is the last time I didn't use worry and Q in the same line?

C- AJ ..258/.291/.376 wOBA .290 Improved like everyone else but wow what a bad offensive year. Still would like to see Castro get a few more bats.

DH/1B- Kotsay .237/.311/.385 wOBA .303 Decent line in August. Too little too late. At least he said the right things when Manny appeared and Mark is not a bad bench player.

Relevant Bench
Jones- .214/.322/.471 wOBA .350, Teabag .270/.342/.578 wOBA .326

Castro- .322/378/.578 wOBA .415 Again this is a solid bench. 3 batters with an OPS around or above .800 is pretty good.

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Pitching

YTD

3.98 ERA (down to 7th in AL), 3.87 FIP (2nd), 4.12 xFIP (2nd)

k/9 7.13 (down to 7th)

bb/9 3.06(4th)

hr/9 0.87 (1st)

August

4.23 ERA (10th), 4.50 FIP (10th), 4.15 xFIP (6th)

Well so much for anti HR. The staff put up a league worst 1.32 hr/9. Ouch. Even Jackson in his initial dominance, gave up runs via the long ball when he felt the need to allow a run to cross the plate.

Starting Staff

              ERA      FIP      K/9    BB/9
Danks     3.40     3.33     6.99    2.95
Floyd     3.54     3.08     7.34    2.62

Buehrle   4.15     3.97    4.08    2.04

Garcia    4.73     4.52     5.38    2.69

Jackson  1.47    2.37    11.05   1.96




Danks- Worst month of the year including allowing 6 dingers.

Floyd- Just last month was touting outside shot at a 6 WAR season. Those days are gone.

Buehrle- Of the initial starters had the best month. Jim pointed to Buerhle's off season plan maybe paying dividends? Was the main victim of the bullpen during the month.

Garcia- Was bad but did have a redeeming start towards the end of the month vs the Yankees

Peavy- Latest update so far so good. Fingers crossed.

Jackson- I'm still not a fan of the trade but Jackson's impersonation of one of the best pitchers in baseball can change a mind in a hurry. A strong Sept can help rotation excitement for 2011 in a way that Peavy did.

Starting pitching was not very good this month. Not epic bad but they picked a bad time for regression to the mean for HR rates.

The Big Three

                   ERA    FIP      K/9     BB/9     LOB%
Jenks        4.65    2.67    10.55   3.22    64.9%
Thornton   2.66   2.30    12.17   2.85    80.3%
Putz           2.68    2.64    10.53   2.11     76.7%

As we all know the main bullpen failed big time in August. Jenks seemed to rebound towards the end of the month before blowing a game in Cleveland. Thornton and Putz would end up on the DL with both expected back in early Sept. In a tight pennant race some of these winnable lost games are now very much highlighted. I get it. I really do, but its very easy to gloss over how good the bullpen has been and the "work" it did throughout much of the season helping the comeback in the first place. Remember the Sox .700 run of baseball for a third of the season was fueled by pitching, starters AND relievers. There is no doubt they have to be better. Thornton and Putz gave up a combined 5 HRs (never good in what are probably high lev situations) but chances are this slump is just that a slump.

The Rest

Santos- ERA 2.30/FIP 3.45 (A little tired and first full season? .349 BABIP)

Pena- ERA 5.59. /FIP 5.34

Linebrink- ERA 4.47/FIP 5.05 

Sale- ERA 0.90/FIP 2.00 I love me some Chris Sale. 10 IP 16K. Yes he does have 7 walks but you really couldn't ask for a better start from a pitcher in college a few months ago. The Sox will need him down the stretch especially if their are injury concerns.

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Defense

All these numbers are subject to classic SSS and wild swings blah blah blah....

Defensive Efficiency is now .688 (11th in the AL). Again you can't tell anything from UZR for a predictive nature but there is value in knowing the results.

Team UZR is -18.8 (11th)

Team UZR/150 -3.3 (11th)

Alexei (12.6) and Pierre (9.1) continue their stand-out years. Rios rebounded in the small sample (4.7), Quentin (-11.7) and Konerko (-9.9) remain rangeless.

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Team Base Running

Per BP the team’s Equivalent Base Running  Runs (EqBrr)

Results

The White Sox rank 11th in baseball with a total score of -7.1

Ughh!! Why am I screaming? Because of the aggregate total of -7.1, -9.30 is made up of the stolen base component. That's 3rd worse in baseball.

126 stolen bases out of 191 attempts for a 65% conversion rate. For the month of August try 27 out 44 for a 61% rate. This is beyond ridiculous. With the improved offense the Sox are simply costing themselves too many darn runs. Can someone kidnap Ozzie and explain this principle. There have been recent close games where the Sox have sacrificed and had a runner thrown out stealing in the same inning. How do you give up 2 outs in a tight game during a pennant race?!

Pierre remains a stand out with a 7.2 score, 4th in baseball and only a hair behind Carl Crawford.

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At the end of last month I asked a few questions.

Morneau return? Nope---- Waiver Trade? Mannyhood--- Teabag? Has seemed to fit in---- Jackson turnaround? And then some--- Capps to the bullpen? added Fuentes but still late inning problems--- 3 more home games directly vs Twins? didn't matter they took 2 of 3 here.

In the AL central, where late season drama seems required the 3 game set the teams play in mid Sept probably will still mean something. A sweep will surely be needed but who knows crazier things have happened.

I wanted a competitive team this season. Well I have one. Cheat wrote the 14-15 August record was frustrating and maybe not that much different than the team's true talent. I don't know. I feel like this team should and can achieve greater heights and now I want more. Or in Bizarro world should I root for them to suck in Sept?

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