While Baseball Prospectus habitually undersells the White Sox's chances with their PECOTA standings projections, the team ultimately benefits from the attention, because it puts their best asset in the spotlight.
It just takes a while to get there. It's usually a four-act play:
- The White Sox outperform the preseason PECOTA projection.
- The next year's projections are quite underwhelming.
- Those who don't know better claim bias.
- Those who do know better explain underlying factors.
We're all familiar with the biggest factors the projection systems can't quite account for: Herm Schneider and Don Cooper. The White Sox are the best at keeping players in the lineup, but they're way ahead of the pack when it comes to pitchers. Over the long haul, they've shown that they're better than the rest when it comes to keeping rotations intact, which prevents starts from slipping into the hands of the not-ready-for-primetime pitching prospects.
Over at FanGraphs, Dave Cameron took a deeper look at the impact of starts made. Then Dan Hayes went straight to the source to explain why the White Sox consistently have a cleaner injury record than the rest of the league. What results is a great piece of beat writing, and while the Sox won't offer too many details about the shoulder program, it conveys the amount of dedication they give it:
"You brush your teeth every day, you take a shower every day, you do the shoulder program when needed," Schneider said. "They’re really good about it. Our group understands how important it is, how good it is. Do they like doing it? I can’t exactly say that, but they also understand it’s very monumental to them and the reward at the end of the road is pretty great when it becomes contract time."
At least twice a week, pitchers enter the training room for 45 minutes and participate in 32-35 exercises aimed at strengthening a pitcher’s shoulder. Schneider accepts nothing less than perfection, which means players can’t listen to headphones and they need to display good posture and textbook form.
The team’s trainer since 1979, Schneider asks pitchers to "make deposits" to allow them to comfortably make withdrawals every time they pitch.
"It’s very simple: if you spend more money than you make, you go broke," Schneider said. "You withdraw more than you deposit, you come up with shoulder problems. When you explain it to guys like that, they grab it."
Two additional thoughts:
No. 1: Hayes also notes Don Cooper's contributions to the cause, saying the throwing program dates back to Cooper's days as the Sox's minor-league pitching coordinator. He's also the guy who monitors mechanics during the season and looks for variances that would tip off physical problems.
It's fun to size it all up, and then remember back to when Joe Cowley tried to make it a big deal that Cooper got his contract extension before the other coaches. Like that wasn't going to happen anyway.
No. 2: If you want to see how the other half lives, check out this story about the "open warfare" between members of the Boston Red Sox's medical staff. The nutgraph:
The friction that existed for years between former medical director Dr. Thomas Gill and trainer Mike Reinold spilled over into the clubhouse, multiple sources told ESPNBoston.com. Reinold was originally hired as athletic trainer but was given expanded authority until his dismissal after last season. Players took sides not only on Toradol, but other issues.