White Sox notes from The Bill James Handbook 2011

Bjh2011_mediumCarrying an annual tradition from Sox Machine on over to the new digs, it's about time I thumb through the new Bill James Handbook and relay a few of the Sox-related items found along the way. It's a month later than usual, but the Sox had to go ahead and sign Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko and Jesse Crain. Blame them.

But before I do, I'd like to remind you to cast your ballot for the SSS Hall of Fame voting, if you haven't already. It's simple, it's easy, it's good and good for you.

Offense

  • The White Sox finished fourth in baseball with 182 manufactured runs (Texas led the way with 230). The year before, they were second-to-last with 137. Juan Pierre and his league-leading 51 manufactured runs makes a big difference.
  • We all know Paul Konerko loves fastballs, and sure enough, he finished with the third-highest slugging percentage on that pitch (1.080). But did you know he loves changeups more (a league-best 1.112)? That's quite the departure, as Konerko was susceptible to changeups for most of his career.
  • Pierre was the toughest batter to strike out (6.4 percent of plate appearances), even though he had the fourth-lowest first-pitch swing percentage (8.8 percent).
  • The White Sox had a net gain of one base on the basepaths. That may sound unimpressive, but it's the first time the Sox have been in the black since 2003. Their previous best score? -16, in 2003 and 2005.

A fun quote preceding the baserunning section:

25) The major league leader in baserunning outs, combining "Out Advancing" and "Doubled Off," was Vladimir Guerrero, with 12. During the playoffs Ron Washington told reporters that Vladimir was perhaps the best baserunner on his team, which ... you know, it's nice of him to say that. But Guerrero is a terrible baserunner at this point, regardless of what his manager may tell you and gullible TV announcers may repeat.

Sound familiar? A.J. Pierzynski, by the way, tied his Sox-worst performance on the basepaths with 20 bases lost.

At the same time, this was the first year since joining the Sox that Pierzynski failed to finish in the top 10 in first-pitch swing percentage. Carlos Quentin did -- No. 10 at 33.3 percent.

Pitching

  • Matt Thornton ranked as James' No. 1 setup man, based on the sum of Thornton's performances across all categories. A big reason why: Thornton stranded the highest percentage of inherited runners in the AL (four out of 31). Chris Sale was the No. 2 lefty behind Joe Thatcher, which is impressive considering his small body of work.
  • For the second straight season, a White Sox reliever led the AL in relief innings - Tony Pena with 81 2/3.
  • Opponents could only muster a .519 OPS off Edwin Jackson's slider, making it the eight-best slider in the AL. No. 2 on that list? Jesse Crain. That's why he throws it so much.

Defense

  • The only true trouble spots in the White Sox defense were situated along the right-field line: Paul Konerko and Carlos Quentin both brought up the rear of their respective lists in both runs saved and plus/minus.
  • At least as long as Mark Teahen doesn't play third. He barely missed appearing on the bottom-five lists at the hot corner, which is stunning considering he played just 52 games there.

Managing

  • Ozzie Guillen is starting to let his starters work longer again. He's not back where he was in 2004 and 2005, but he's going away from the ultra-traditional 100-pitch hooks.
  • He led the league in intentional walks (41), and intentional walks gone bad (10).
  • And he loved his faster lineup. Guillen had runners moving with the pitch 220 times - his previous high was 114 in 2009. Only Mike Scioscia (223) was more aggressive.
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