Addison Reed, stress reliever

David Banks

This year, it isn't a White Sox winner until the White Sox closer shows up, and the offense might want to change that

It's a good thing Addison Reed has taken the next step in his development. Had he started 2013 as he finished 2012, Robin Ventura would be aging like he drank from the wrong grail, and White Sox fans wouldn't be far behind.

Reed has factored into 17 of the White Sox's 21 victories this season, recording 16 saves to along with a win. That's what happens when you pair lights-out starting pitching with a loose-filament offense.

At least Reed has been a kind and benevolent closer. He's blown just one save, and out of the 16 he's converted, six of them came via the 1-2-3 inning. That means he's already eclipsed his total from last season, when he worked a clean inning just five times out of 33 save opportunities.

That kind of effectiveness has put Reed on a pace for 58 saves this season, one better than the club record his bullpen coach, Bobby Thigpen, set in 1990.

One problem: The 1990 White Sox won 94 games.

The 2013 White Sox are on pace for 76.

That gives you the idea that this combination of an impressive save total and an unimpressive team win total puts Reed on a trajectory unlike any other closer in White Sox history.

Pardon the dramatic phrasing, because closer history is far younger than White Sox history. The modern closer is a relatively recent invention, with Ed Farmer's 1980 the first iteration (30 saves, one out short of 100 innings). If Reed holds down the job wire to wire, it'll be just the 19th time the Sox have deployed a set closer in their 112 seasons.

(And nearly all of them are variations of "Robert." Starting from the mid-80s, Bob James begat Bobby Thigpen, who begat Roberto Hernandez, who begat Bobby Howry. Then, after a six-year Bob Famine, Bobby Jenks held down the job for five seasons. So I guess you could call the current Sox closer "Robert Reed" if you want. "Mike Brady" would be pushing it.)

I can put together a few charts showing just how rare of an animal the comfortable victory is this year. I went through each of the complete-closer seasons, looking for how many team victories the Sox had by their closer's 16th save, and how many saves the closer had recorded by his team's 21st win.

Reed is comfortably ahead of the pace in the first category:

Year Closer Team wins at 16th save
2013 Addison Reed 21
2007 Bobby Jenks 27
1990 Bobby Thigpen 28
2009 Bobby Jenks 32
1986 Bob James 32
1980 Ed Farmer 32
1997 Roberto Hernandez 34
2006 Bobby Jenks 35
1989 Bobby Thigpen 35
2010 Bobby Jenks 36
2008 Bobby Jenks 38
1988 Bobby Thigpen 39
1991 Bobby Thigpen 41
1993 Roberto Hernandez 42
2000 Keith Foulke 43
1996 Roberto Hernandez 43
1995 Roberto Hernandez 44
2001 Keith Foulke 45
1999 Bobby Howry 46

Fun Fact No. 1: In the lost 1994 season, Hernandez only saved 14 games ... for a team that went 67-46.

As you might expect, Reed also is comfortably ahead of the field by the Sox's 21st victory.

Year
Closer
Saves by 21st team win
2013
Addison Reed
16
2007
Bobby Jenks
13
1980
Ed Farmer
11
1990
Bobby Thigpen
11
1995
Roberto Hernandez
11
1996
Roberto Hernandez
11
1997
Roberto Hernandez
10
2009
Bobby Jenks
10
1989
Bobby Thigpen
10
2001
Keith Foulke
10
2008
Bobby Jenks
9
2006
Bobby Jenks
9
1991
Bobby Thigpen
9
1986
Bob James
9
1999
Bobby Howry
8
1988
Bobby Thigpen
8
1993
Roberto Hernandez
7
2010
Bobby Jenks
7
2000
Keith Foulke
5

Fun Fact No. 2: The 2000 AL Central winners averaged 8.24 runs over their first 21 victories. The 2013 White Sox? 4.29.

If that sounds absurdly low, that's because it absolutely is. Here's one more chart for runs per victory this season, through Wednesday:

Team Wins Runs per win
Detroit 25 7.32
Toronto 19 7.11
Cleveland 26 6.92
Oakland 25 6.68
Houston 14 6.57
Los Angeles 19 6.37
Minnesota 18 6.33
Tampa Bay 24 6.29
Boston 28 6.29
Texas 30 6.23
Kansas City 21 6.14
Baltimore 25 6.00
New York 28 5.64
Seattle 20 5.10
White Sox 21 4.29

Man.

These stats are extreme, so you'd figure that regression and normalization are right around the corner. Having the Marlins, Cubs, Mariners, Blue Jays, Astros and Twins on the schedule over the next three weeks should help. So should the return of Gordon Beckham. If the fastball-whipping version of Paul Konerko sticks around, the offense will be able to give Reed a chance to catch his breath.

Then again, the Sox are a year removed from losing a series to the Astros at home, so it's never a given that they'll be able to fatten up on the teams beneath them. If Reed's still involved with three-quarters of White Sox winners by mid-June, well, I hope everybody enjoyed having faces.

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